Countdown underway to launch of Mental Health First Aiders

Countdown underway to launch of Mental Health First Aiders

50 colleagues from around the business - our Mental Health First Aiders - are now starting to support colleagues with mental health-related issues, initially within their immediate work areas. We’re expecting to formally launch the network across the wider business in early March and we'll be communicating then how you can access their support.

Many of the Mental Health First Aiders met up in Chesterfield and London earlier this month to discuss their new role and ways of working. 15 colleagues from Supply Chain have now joined their ranks, having been trained in recent weeks by OH Assist.

Head of Health and Safety Martin Hopcroft and his team are spearheading this new initiative. He says: “As we said on Time To Talk Day on 1st February, it’s vitally important that colleagues in the business feel able to talk openly about mental health issues. If you’re experiencing mental health problems, not being able to talk about them can be one of the worst parts of the illness and delay or even prevent recovery.

“Our Mental Health First Aiders have been trained to spot the symptoms of mental health issues, offer initial help and guide colleagues towards further support. They’re not there to act as therapists but the training has equipped them to reassure and support a person in distress in a caring and non-judgemental way. They’ll be guided by a clear Code of Conduct, for instance protecting client confidentiality and privacy at all times, working within their competence and ensuring that their own wellbeing is sufficient to sustain the quality of the support they provide.”

Phil Evans is one of the people who’ve stepped up to perform this important new role. He says: “I was interested in doing this as I’ve had first-hand experience of mental health issues with friends and family, and back in 2005 I actually volunteered to be a trustee of a mental health charity which focuses on mental health in the workplace. If people with mental health issues are not adequately supported they can end up leaving their employer, sometimes because they are wrongly seen as having a ‘performance issue’. Supporting colleagues with mental health issues and making adjustments to help them can be a really good investment as it helps organisations to retain valuable staff.”

Phil went to the recent workshop in London and says: “It was useful in reinforcing what we learnt on the training late last year. It was also good to meet up again with the other Mental Health First Aiders and the workshop underlined for me that we will need to look after ourselves too, and help and support one another going forward as we start to perform the role.”

We’ll be launching our Mental Health First Aider Network shortly – look out for more information, including how to access them, in the coming weeks.

Updates will also be provided on our Mental Health page which can be accessed via the peoplehub and Wellbeing Portal: