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Guest blogs: Mental Health First-Aiders and Colleague-led forums support mental wellbeing at Leeds Building Society

  • Contact: Katie Wise
  • Tel: 0207 520 5904
  • Created date: 03 February 2022

Wendy Harrison, HR Service Delivery Lead at Leeds Building Society and MHFA England Instructor, talks about the mental wellbeing support provided to her colleagues and the partnership with the Building Societies Association (BSA) which helps other organisations to do the same.

Supporting mental wellbeing has been a priority at Leeds for many years.

Since 2018, the BSA and Leeds Building Society have worked in partnership to deliver accredited training to 114 members and associated firms, enabling the development of Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) in the workplace, building their capability to develop mental wellbeing literacy and capacity across the sector.

The partnership has presented the sector with a great opportunity to build understanding, create networks and share what is happening in other workplaces.

Like all mutuals, it is important to us that we give back to the wider community. One way we do this is by sharing our knowledge and skills with other organisations, enabling them to develop their own mental wellbeing strategies and approaches.

A driving force behind everything we’ve done in relation to inclusivity has been our Society-wide, colleague-led forums and networks relating to issues like race equity, gender and LGBTQ+ experiences.

Our Mental Health Forum was nationally recognised as ‘Steering Group of the Year’ at the National Centre for Diversity Awards in 2021 and they’ve helped us to maintain our progress on mental wellbeing despite the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic.

As you would expect we’ve switched out mental health first aider training to be delivered virtually to continue building capacity via the partnership at the same time as keeping everyone safe.

We’ve also supported the Mental Health First Aider network, holding more than 275 supportive conversations with colleagues since the start of 2020. Topics such as anxiety were prevalent, particularly with the impacts from the pandemic affecting the usual ways colleagues were able to connect with each other. 

Mindfulness has become a much more integral part of the programme and we’ve created and delivered a series of events for colleagues to develop their coping strategies and resilience. We also have a range of online mindfulness resources available for colleagues to download and access either at work or at home.

We’ve stayed open to new facets of mental health and started a men’s wellbeing group to support colleagues to reach out and seek support.

To recognise Time To Talk Day 2022, the Mental Health Forum is encouraging colleagues to take 10 minutes to reconnect with a colleague they haven’t seen or spoken to recently and check in with them.  Evidence shows that a small conversation about mental health and wellbeing has the power to make a big difference.

Our colleague engagement index scores remain high at 86% and we have recently been awarded 3 Star Accreditation by Best Companies, demonstrating ‘World Class’ levels of workplace engagement, which we’re hugely proud of.

In all of our assessments it’s clear that our people find huge value in the support they’re provided with in relation to mental wellbeing and that will remain so even as the impact of the pandemic lessens further.

For more information visit the Leeds Building Society website here

Posted by Katie Wise on 03 February 2022