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Highlighting the importance of mental health awareness

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In a world that is increasingly opening up to – and understanding those with – mental health issues, it’s no surprise that Mental Health Awareness Week is now a firmer fixture on calendars around the UK and beyond.

Organised by the Mental Health Foundation, and taking place from Monday, 13th to Sunday, 19th May this year, Eagle Eye is getting involved to highlight the importance of mental health awareness at work.

Here at Eagle Eye, we pride ourselves on embodying the company’s core “purple” values and our Human Resources (HR) team are busy promoting mental health awareness as part of our commitment to each other.

We spoke to our lovely HR advisor, Beth Ziverts, about the work the team is doing in the run up to Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond, as well as why this work is so important to us all.

Beth told us: “One in four people will experience some sort of mental illness in a year, and 25% of adults are experiencing depression, anxiety or stress at any one time, as the most common mental health problems. That means, as we are a company of 147 employees, 29 of them will be experiencing some form of depression, anxiety or stress at any one time – that’s a lot of our people, so it’s important for us to do something to raise awareness and provide support to those affected.

“To combat this, so far HR has given a presentation on mental health awareness at the regular, weekly company teleconference that our CEO Tim Mason hosts, called “Tea with Tim” and I regularly send out LifeWorks articles on various health topics for people to read.

“We also recently sent three employees on a MHFA [Mental Health First Aider] course, and have two more due to attend, so that we will have a trained MHFA on hand at each of our office locations in Guildford and Manchester in the UK and Toronto in Canada.”
 

Proactively managing mental health

The role of the MHFA is:-
 
  • To spot the early signs of mental ill health
  • To start a supportive conversation and listen non-judgementally
  • To encourage people suffering to access appropriate support and help
  • To tackle the stigma around mental ill health – it happens and we want to support people who are suffering
  • To facilitate activities and opportunities to improve people’s mental health

Beth said this work was important – for every Eagle Eye team member and the company as a whole – because of the impact that mental health has on our ability to succeed.
She explained: “The benefits for the individuals are increased levels of support and access to resources they may not have known existed, feeling able to talk freely about mental health, reducing the stigma around mental health and promoting early intervention to enable faster recovery.

“But the support and benefits go wider than just the individual employee, as the resources available are also there for employees’ friends and family too – so anyone can come speak to our MHFAs if they are concerned about a loved one and we will help to support them with that.

“The benefits for the company are that it reduces sickness absence and presenteeism (when employees still come to work when ill but underperform),” Beth added. “Improving mental health management in the workplace, including prevention and early identification of problems, should enable employers to save 30% or more of the costs associated with mental ill health – which costs UK Plc at least £8 billion a year according to the Centre for Mental Health.

“Recruitment, engagement and loyalty should also increase. According to a 2013 survey by Mind, 60% of employees would feel more motivated and likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental health and wellbeing.”
 

Staying one step ahead of the issues

She continued: “There is currently no legislation mandating the training of MHFAs, as there is for Emergency Response training. So, we are ahead of the curve with this. It will eventually become mandatory, as with First Aiders and Fire Marshals, where you need to have a set number of these trained people depending on the total number of people there are in an office.”

Going forward, Beth added: “The MHFAs will be meeting regularly to discuss how they can further improve Eagle Eye’s mental health awareness capabilities and resources going forward. We are currently working on a bank of resources (that will include websites, helplines, books and articles, etc.) for each specific area or symptom of mental health that we can publish for anyone in the business to take advantage of.