SME of the Week: Fika Mental Fitness

If we provide proactive training to the NHS workforce to prevent physical injury, why don’t we provide proactive training to prevent mental injury?

Mental health has overtaken back injuries as the principal cause of sickness absence, costing the NHS £371.2 million annually. Staff have formal training to avoid back problems but until now, there has been no formal training to prevent mental health decline. Mental health decline is causing critical risks across the NHS workforce in terms of staff performance, absence and retention, which directly impacts waiting lists and the delivery of critical care services for patients across the country.

The conception of Fika Mental Fitness

My co-founder Gareth and I have both experienced life-changing mental health events. I lost my best friend of 35 years to suicide and Gareth suffered a burn out and double cancer diagnosis. We decided to create the Fika Mental Fitness platform to get ahead of the problem of mental health decline and prevent it, before it becomes a problem. We do this by delivering skills training to the workforce through five-minute digital and face-to-face techniques that integrate into existing meeting structures and short digital courses at key points in career pathways. In this way, mental fitness training becomes embedded into the ways of working for all staff, helping create cohesive, connected teams, improving employee engagement and ultimately preventing burnout.

Our portfolio of evidence

We have published evidence from randomised control trials demonstrating the effectiveness of our mental fitness training in improving an individual’s performance and wellbeing. Our results showed that 18 x five minute mental fitness techniques significantly improved Life Satisfaction, Positive Affect and Self Efficacy and reduces Negative Affect (Bretherton, Longstaff, Askew & Yovcheva-Dimov, European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology). In 2021, we repeated our evidence base on a national scale, rolling out and supporting teachers and students in the UK’s education sector, delivering 33,000 hours of mental fitness training. We saw evidence of skills uplifts in stress management, confidence, motivation and connection development ranging from 8-15%.

Reducing burnout across the NHS workforce

Knowing the dire need to support the NHS workforce, we also turned our attention to NHS trusts in 2021 and ran successful pilot with NHS staff achieving 74% reach and once more delivering uplifts in skills training and shifts in our diagnostics that correlate with reduced burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory) and increased Employee Engagement (The Utrecht Work Engagement Scale). We are now working with two NHS trusts to support a burnt out and challenged workforce.

We are delighted to be part of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme and we are now seeking forward thinking and innovative NHS trusts so we can repeat our success and deliver major economic returns in reducing mental health days off, burnout and staff attrition. If you are a brave NHS leader prepared to commit to prevent mental health decline and make a step change in duty of care for staff, do reach out, we are here to help. Prevention is after all better than cure.

For more information: Contact Nick

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Fika Mental Fitness is part of the sixth cohort of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is a collaborative programme funded by two of London’s Academic Health Science Networks – UCL Partners and the Health Innovation Network, MedCity, CW+ and receives match funding from the European Regional Development Fund.