Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 – Industry initiatives

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 – Industry initiatives

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, the industry is showcasing a variety of issues which outline the strides that have been taken to support staff in improving and maintaining their mental health and wellbeing. 

Travis Perkins plc is on track to deliver on its commitment to ensure there are six times more Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) in the business this summer than there were at the start of the year.

The safety and wellbeing of colleagues is the Group’s number one priority, and this drive to increase the number of accredited MHFAs from 40 to over 250 has been accelerated to proactively manage colleagues’ wellbeing in the workplace.

This initiative complements a whole raft of other support for colleagues, which includes an employee assistance programme for counselling and emotional support as well as a mental wellbeing app and assessment tool, activity and mindfulness resources and discounts on gym memberships, exercise equipment, online fitness and other financial offers to help balance the physical, financial and mental aspect of wellbeing. 

Richard Byrne, Group HSE & Fleet Director for Travis Perkins plc, said: “During COVID, our mental health and wellbeing have been put to the test like never before, but as an industry leader with a proud history of upholding family values, our strong people focus has served us well. It has underpinned our pandemic response and helped us work collectively to resolve the many challenges this past year has posed for our 20,000+ colleagues in balancing their home and work lives.”

He added: “Our MHFAs play a key role as ambassadors across all areas of wellbeing; to be the first port of call in the workplace for mental health support for colleagues, raise awareness and encourage positive behaviours amongst our workforce on a voluntary basis, and to identify signs of poor mental health and help individuals access professional support if they need it. But we are very clear that they are not there to diagnose or provide ongoing support or counselling.”

The MHFAs at Travis Perkins all follow the guidelines of MHFA England, and in recognition of the rewarding, but also challenging nature of these roles, the company has also put in place a range of support mechanisms to safeguard the MHFAs themselves, so they protect their own health and wellbeing.

Forterra has appointed 60 volunteer Mental Health First Aiders from within its workforce to become mental health advocates and points of contact for colleagues in need of support.

In addition to the appointment of dedicated Mental Health First Aiders, Forterra is running a training session for managers called ‘Starting the conversation’. The firm considers managers to be in an ideal position to become mental health advocates and to be able to recognise when someone within their team might be in need of support. The training session has been designed to give managers the tools to be able to ‘start the conversation’ and guide the person in the direction of the appropriate services. 

Shahbaz Idriss, Human Resources Director at Forterra, said: “The past year has been challenging for even the most resilient of people. As a business, we recognise that we have a role to play in providing a supportive and understanding working environment where it feels safe to talk about mental health issues. We had an overwhelming response to our recruitment drive for mental health first aider volunteers, which indicates a desire within our business to make mental health part of our everyday conversations.”

Polypipe Building Services has announced its commitment to taking care of the mental health of its employees by recently adding four more Mental Health First Aiders.

Natalie Butler, Learning and Development Business Partner Polypipe Building Services, said: “Mental Health First Aiders are a point of contact if you, or someone  you know is experiencing a mental health issue. They are not therapists or psychiatrists but they offer support to find the appropriate help.

“This initiative forms part of Polypipe Building Services Total Wellbeing Strategy whereby we want to raise awareness and start talking about mental health to reduce the stigma, encourage open discussion and communication about mental health illness.

“Polypipe is committed to creating a healthy and safe working environment for all our colleagues.”

Jewson is increasing wellbeing support for its employees through a partnership with SIX Mental Health Solutions (SIX MHS) – founded by former England and Arsenal captain, Tony Adams.

The merchant states that the “whole country’s wellbeing has been tested in the last 12 months and ensuring access to mental health support has never been more important”. Accordingly, the work with SIX MHS is intended to provide Jewson employees with a range of services designed to improve their wellbeing and encourage positive mental health. These include a 24/7 confidential Jewson helpline, a national network of counsellors, a series of educational seminars and residential treatment for those who suffer from addictive disorders.

The partnership with SIX MHS will help to further improve our existing mental health resources and will be a great new addition to our support system.”

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