The bundle of research is part of a study conducted to highlight skills gaps in the UK workforce, by identifying the most requested 'hard' and 'soft' skills. The Skills Network found that mental health is the 9th most sought-after hard skill across employers and industries, just below nursing (8th) and warehousing (7th)

This increased need and interest for mental health informed skills has been increasing exponentially year on year, with mental health skills appearing in unique job postings just 19,200 times in 2016, and increasing to 63,492 by June 2021, an increase of 230%.

The research also broke down and elaborated on the specific mental health related skills that are most in demand, and highlighted the top 10:

  1. Mental health – 171,904
  2. Learning disabilities – 39,060
  3. Nursing – 24,915
  4. Autism spectrum disorders – 22,729
  5. Psychology – 21,666
  6. Community mental health services – 12,741
  7. Disabilities – 12,074
  8. Risk analysis – 10,993
  9. Personal care – 10,916
  10. Social work – 10,846

The research also found that in nursing in particular, mental health related skills were the second most requested skill on job postings, which aligns with the current mental health crisis the nation is facing in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mental health services have been severely stripped of workforces and have struggled to meet demand for treatment and support whilst thousands of members of staff have been isolating and emergency staff have been called to aid in the pandemic effort.

This points to a desperate need for more mental health skilled nurses within healthcare and mental health services. However, it isn’t only in the health sector that we are seeing an increased demand for mental health skills as a result of the pandemic.

Across all job postings The Skills Network found that between the first national lockdown that began in March 2020, and the third national lockdown that began in January 2021, the demand for mental health related skills increased by 26,385.

What does this mean for workplaces being more mental health informed?

This is an indication that the job market is responding to the current mental health crisis not only with jobs unique to the mental health sector, but that businesses are actively addressing and thinking about how the pandemic has impacted their staff’s wellbeing and how those they employ can add to a more mental health informed workforce and whole business approach.

James Earl, Executive Director of Sales at The Skills Network has said:

“The last 18 months has taught us a lot about how important our mental state and well-being is. The increase in demand for mental health skills comes as no shock and it is vital we understand mental health awareness now more than ever.”

Is this an important sign of things to come? This research paired with the recent NICE guidelines calling on all management to have mental health training combines to suggest a new way of addressing mental health in the workplace, where not only is it discussed and destigmatised but it is at the heart of informing policy and training.