12th August 2020
We spoke to Sue Bell, CliniMed’s HR Director about why they chose to train over 30 members of staff as Mental Health First Aiders and how this was essential in supporting their staff over the recent lockdown.
“We have always taken the wellbeing of our staff very seriously. We invest hugely in our people, and we like to help them to be as engaged and as involved as they can be. The nature of the business we are in (supply of products to the healthcare market) generates a great deal of goodwill from our employees and our people are passionate about what we do. The healthier our people are, the better we can support our customers.
No-one can have overall wellbeing without good mental wellbeing, so we focus as much on the good mental health of our people as we do on their physical health and safety. We have worked hard to create a culture that supports good mental health, and to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Mental Health First Aid is an important part of that; people need to feel that they are able to talk about these things in the context of a supportive workplace.
People with good mental wellbeing can contribute to the business more successfully and consistently, and get more enjoyment and fulfilment from their work. Mental Health First Aid, and more importantly the understanding and knowledge of its principles by line managers, HR professionals and our trained First Aiders, has meant we are able to support our people in their working practices and maintain their good health during a challenging time. This has helped us to remain productive and competitive as a business.”
“Our Mental health First Aiders are advertised alongside our physical first aiders, so everybody knows who they are and who they can speak to. Our aim is to train 1 in 20 of our workforce as Mental Health First Aiders, so that everybody in the business has easy access to somebody they know and can see these people leading by example when it comes to good working practices. People who feel passionately about what they do can sometimes run the risk of overlooking their own wellbeing in their determination to deliver excellence every day.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people and businesses in so many ways. Many of our people have been working from home, and those who have not have certainly seen enormous changes in their workplaces, both in the physical environment and in new ways of working. More managers are having to engage with their teams remotely.
From the start of the pandemic, we have supported people working at home in all respects. They had people they could call if they were struggling, and many did so. Some have experienced anxiety, especially during the height of the lockdown and whilst this was not always due to work matters, it would inevitably impact upon work and so we needed people to be skilled in listening and providing reassurance, and able to direct to other sources of help as applicable. People who came into work as normal found the environment was significantly altered, and this too caused some anxiety as they had to change much of what they were used to – what doors they could or could not use, what they had to wear, who they could sit with at breaks, new cleaning regimes, and so on. Having a trained group of people to provide support at the right time was invaluable.
As well as training accredited Mental Health First Aiders we also make all line managers aware of the Mental Health First Aiders’ role and how they (as line managers) can spot the early signs of problems and issues.
Our focus on mental wellbeing, which has included training more than thirty Mental Health First Aiders, has allowed us to accommodate significant changes in our business and the market over recent months, with no loss of enthusiasm or productivity. Most importantly, people are generally healthier and happier. Absence rates have fallen.”
Sue Bull, Group HR Director
We are delighted to hear such positive feedback and this really showcases the benefits of having a Mental Health First Aider in your team, whether it be one or thirty.
We offer a number of courses suitable for every point in your wellbeing journey. If your organisation is taking their first steps, why not try our half day MHFA Aware course which is designed to help delegates understand what mental health is, how to challenge stigma and recognise common mental health issues.