The scheme, which was introduced at the start of the 2014, has just seen the 250th Aggregate Industries’ employee undertake an introductory mental health awareness course. The three hour intensive programme looks at how mental health is defined and considers how individuals can look after their own mental health and wellbeing. It also aims to equip employees with the knowledge to provide support to colleagues and to better relate to people’s experiences.
With World Mental Health Day taking place in October (10th), Joanne Hankinson, HR Business Partner at Aggregate Industries, reflects on the scheme’s introduction: “We know that in the UK, 70 million days are lost from work each year due to mental health, making it the leading cause of sickness absence. Within our own business, mental health features in the top four reasons for absenteeism. Therefore, it was important that we addressed the issue of mental health in a supportive way.
“First and foremost, we wanted to implement a programme that would help individuals spot the early signs of mental health problems and guide them towards the right support. We also understand the importance of ensuring that our line managers have a real understanding of mental health so have developed a resilience e-learning programme to help them spot the early signs of stress-related conditions within their own teams.
“However, being able to identify the signs is just the first step and we have subsequently launched Health Assured, an employee assistance programme aimed at providing support to employees to help them balance work and home life. The telephone service is free to all employees and available 24/7 and gives a confidential support in all areas of life from family issues, to lifestyle addictions, or financial worries.”
Joanne continues: “We’ve been delighted that of the 250 or so employees who have undertaken the mental health awareness course, nearly 50 have gone on to train as a Mental Health First Aider. These individuals can now provide help on a first aid basis and offer guidance. Everyone within the organisation knows who our Mental Health First Aiders are and how to reach them for support. This is proving invaluable and is encouraging our employees to be more open about a subject, which is still surrounded with stigma.
“As a business, by taking a more open and supportive approach to mental health, we hope to help our employees to increase their resilience to stress-related conditions and reduce the impact on both them and our organisation. We are very grateful to Mental Health First Aid England for their support.”