Originally published in BSA Society Matters magazine.
More and more employers are realising the importance of supporting the mental wellbeing of their workforce.
The topic has been particularly prominent since the Government’s “Thriving at Work” report in 2017.
In addition to any personal cost, there’s a significant effect on UK employers – estimates suggest the financial impact of poor mental wellbeing costs them between £42bn and £45bn per annum (Deloitte 2020) as productivity is impacted, whether through absence or presenteeism at work.
Working in partnership, the BSA and Leeds Building Society have delivered accredited training to members so they can bring more Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) into the workplace in our sector. Wendy Harrison, MHFA England Instructor and trainer for the partnership, talks about the work being undertaken, the value of employer-led schemes to support mental wellbeing, and the initiatives Leeds Building Society has introduced over the past three years.
Wendy said: “We felt it was important to give back to the wider community by sharing our knowledge and skills with other organisations, enabling them to develop their own wellbeing strategies and approaches.
“So far, through the partnership, we’ve been able to train 65 MHFAs in other financial services and private sector firms, to help them develop their wellbeing support.
“Having a mental health and wellbeing plan is vital, to support an organisation deliver its aims and engage with its workforce. The partnership has presented the sector with a great opportunity to build understanding, create networks and share what other organisations are doing.
“Within Leeds Building Society, we’ve developed and delivered mental wellbeing awareness sessions to our colleagues, our people leaders and our senior managers.
“These sessions focus on building and maintaining mental wellbeing and resilience levels for all, and publicise how our colleagues can be helped to maintain good mental health, with access to support, information and signposting services, as self-care and early intervention are both important in maintaining wellbeing. Our resources include a 24/7 colleague assistance programme, which provides free counselling sessions, as well as more information and contacts through our Wellbeing and Benefits intranet hubs.
“To help break down barriers and stigma around mental ill-health, it’s also vital we ensure managers and colleagues have the skills and confidence to talk about wellbeing and the support available. We’ve trained an internal network of 50 accredited MHFAs to support our 1,400 colleagues, for when they need to speak to someone, and, in first 18 months, more than 100 supportive conversations took place with our MHFAs.
“In addition, our Mental Health Forum, which is colleague-led, feeds in to and tracks progress on the Society’s mental health action plan, as well as developing colleague engagement events, and we participate in the Business in the Community Responsible Business tracker, an external corporate responsibility benchmark tool.
“It should be remembered that it takes time and commitment to build a mental wellbeing approach.
“Our overall colleague engagement score is strong, at 82%, and we continue to work hard to ensure colleagues feel engaged, valued and supported.
“There’s still much more to do and this year we’ll be focusing on financial, physical, social, emotional and nutritional wellbeing, to ensure we offer a holistic approach to colleague wellbeing.
“So the question for you is how are you supporting your colleagues with their mental wellbeing?”
BSA members can book onto the October MHFA training course here.
Non-member firms can book training directly at mhfaengland.org