More than half of employees state that they have suffered from ‘common’ mental health problems, and in the UK someone is made ill by stress at work every two minutes. Finding ways to prevent such occurrences, and to improve mental health is a key topic for employers and their HR teams.
Not only does protecting and enhancing mental health fulfil the legal duty of care and demonstrate the Company’s responsibility to wellbeing and ethical vision/values; it also reduces the potential costs of mental-health-related absences and presenteeism.
Strong leadership and management are key factors in ensuring good mental health and wellbeing for employees. For many people, the way they are treated by their line manager and the behaviour of all the leaders in the organisation makes an enormous difference to how they feel about themselves and their work.
Line managers can also help ensure that mental health problems are identified early if they arise in their team; and, if an individual suffers from a mental health problem, that problem is more likely to be tackled – and resolved – if the manager is involved in the solution.
Here at DDC OS, we incorporated a specific mental health support and awareness module in our Leadership Development Programme, to provide all of our leaders with the basic tools to support an employee with their mental health and well-being.
Following this and some reflection by the Senior Leadership Team, we moved a further step into ensuring that mental health is as much of a priority as physical health, and so we have introduced the role of “mental health first aider” into our business.
Mental health first aiders are the go-to people for anyone who is going through some form of mental health issue. They are able to guide the person in distress to the appropriate help that they need and they also have the pertinent knowledge to be able to spot someone who may be developing a mental health issue.
Being a Mental Health First Aider doesn’t qualify anyone to provide therapy to someone who may need it, but they are there to support an individual to help make their life at work easier and to encourage them to seek the appropriate professional help.
We are really proud that DDC OS has 10 Mental Health First Aiders; Richard Bishop, Jane Gilmour, Lewis Richardson, Shaun Rickards, Marie Sandler, Rachel Sear, Emily Smith, Chrissie Spencer, Jennie Tongue and Anna Watson.