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Better workplace support needed for women’s health issues, nurses warn

A lack of workplace support for women’s health issues is driving nurses out of the profession, a nursing conference has heard.

Nursing staff at this year’s Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress have voted to push its governing council to ‘lobby employers to ensure that female employees are supported with specific women’s health and wellbeing needs’, such as the menopause, menstruation, fertility care and pregnancy.

Leading a debate on the topic at the conference, Francesca Steyn, chair of the RCN Fertility Nursing Forum said: ‘When faced with women’s health concerns, many women including those who identify as and were assigned female at birth may consider reducing their work hours or leaving work entirely.

‘Such concerns can include fertility problems, painful periods, gynae conditions, pregnancy and postnatal care and the menopause, and can impact working women both physically and psychologically.’

Ms Steyn said sanitary provisions in places of work were ‘often’ inadequate.

‘They’re not changed frequently enough, they’re disgusting, and women have to suffer that, especially if they’re suffering with endometriosis,’ she told the conference.

There were also instances where nurses have to ‘inject fertility medication in the toilets’ because there were no other appropriate spaces.

‘All we’re asking for is that women are not discriminated against at work due to their biology and they get the support they need in order to fill their career progression needs and not have to choose their career over their health,’ she added.

Chair of the RCN’s Women’s Health Forum Katharine Gale also took to the stand at congress and told of her experiences of endometriosis, fertility treatment and said that the menopause had forced her to walk out of her job.

‘I call on the [RCN] Council to commit to improving the support for women working in their own organisation, as well

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Democracies weigh inviting Taiwan to World Health Organization meeting

GENEVA, Switzerland: As support for its participation grows despite China’s efforts to isolate it, democratically-governed Taiwan said it still hoped to be invited to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) annual assembly.

According to Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, several diplomatic allies and friendly countries had issued statements of support for Taiwan’s participation, or arranged bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the WHO assembly, which will run from 21st to 30th May.

In a news conference in Taipei this week, Wu said, “Support for us is stronger than in the past. Even though we still have not received an invitation letter for the assembly this year, we have not given up and continue to, through various channels, clearly express our demand to the WHO.”

Due to objections by China, which considers the island its own territory despite Taipei claiming it is independent, Taiwan is excluded from membership in most international organizations.

Taiwan started a diplomatic campaign to join the WHO’s annual meeting as an observer after China began blocking its World Health Assembly (WHA) participation in 2017.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement encouraging the WHO to invite Taiwan as an observer, which was condemned by Beijing.

Meanwhile, the US, Australia, the UK, Canada, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic issued a joint statement reaffirming their support for Taiwan’s participation in the WHA as an observer.

“Taiwan’s isolation from the WHA, the preeminent global health forum, is unjustified and undermines inclusive global public health cooperation and security,” the statement said.

Despite being allowed to attend some technical WHO meetings, Taiwan stressed its exclusion from the WHO hindered efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

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5 ways to help parents support their kids’ mental health

For all working parents, the balance between fulfilling job responsibilities and the needs of their children can be precarious. For those helping their child navigate the complexities of a mental health condition, there is often little time for anything else, and without proper employer support, a manageable balance becomes impossible. 

An estimated 49.5% of adolescents have had a mental health disorder at some point in their lives, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The most common adolescent disorders include anxiety, depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and eating disorders. The time parents must spend on care and support can be overwhelming, says Jill Cassone, the founder of private academy Success4School and an educational diagnostician with a background in regular and special education, as well as specialized ADHD training.

Read more:  4 ways to support working moms

“When you have a child who has mental health needs such as anxiety, OCD, ADHD and the like, everything becomes next-level,” she says. “[For parents], oftentimes the world can feel lonely and overwhelming.” 

Employee wellness, attendance at work, and job productivity all suffer as a result of the strain. According to a survey conducted by children’s mental health organization On Our Sleeves, almost one in three working parents expressed higher levels of concern and work disruption related to their children’s mental health following the COVID pandemic, and one third has reported changing or quitting their jobs because of their child’s mental health. Cassone points out that employers need to recognize that although many parents may experience having a child with a mental health condition, each of their employees will have different needs when it comes to support. 

“Unfortunately, words like ‘ADD’ and ‘anxiety’ are so overused, society makes it easy for people to normalize these terms as ‘everyone has a

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Dobbies increases support for team members’ mental health

UK garden centre retailer Dobbies will be increasing the mental health support of its 4,000 team members by training more mental health first aiders across its business. 

As part of the retailer’s continued commitment to the wellbeing of its team, it has increased the number of mental health first aiders (MHFA) from two to 16. The retailer will also be introducing several store level mental health champions, providing additional localised resources.

In addition to the MHFA and champion offerings, Dobbies also has wellbeing training available through its internal e-learning platform, including Mental Health Awareness, Practicing Mindfulness, Wellbeing at Dobbies, Stress Awareness, Suicide Prevention Awareness and Menopause Awareness.

According to the group, the aim is to “better equip the team to support those in need more effectively” through challenging times or personal change, whilst also encouraging techniques to help look after their own wellbeing and work-life balance.

Research from Retail Trust has found that 85% of retail managers in the UK reported an increase in mental health problems among their teams and more than half (54%) said team members have experienced issues that they felt ill-equipped to deal with.

Paul Green, head of people experience at Dobbies, said: “The wellbeing of our team members is of the utmost importance to us and it’s vital that we can support their mental health with support where possible.

“Often conversations with mental health first aiders will be the first time that people have opened up to anyone about their mental health and it is important that we have compassionate conversations about this sometimes sensitive subject, as well as offering support.” 

Iain McDonald, learning and development specialist at Dobbies, said: “I’m a people person and I wanted to expand my knowledge so that I can offer worthwhile support to team members in moments of need.

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