Championing mental health in the workplace

Recent research from the mental health awareness charity, Mind, revealed that stress and other mental health problems are the second biggest cause of absence from work in the UK.

For Warrington & Vale Royal College, supporting employees’ mental health and well-being isn’t just an option – but a necessity. As part of the college’s mental health and wellbeing action plan, HR Business Partner Jocelyn Smith attended a training course with Mental Health First Aid England to become a Mental Health First Aider. The two-day course teaches the skills to provide mental health first aid to people who may be experiencing mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

In order to raise awareness of mental health and improve the network of support available at the college, the HR department invited staff to volunteer to become Mental Health First Aid Champions. Twenty-one staff members attended the training delivered by Jocelyn, based on the course she attended and her twenty years’ experience working within HR.

The role of the Mental Health First Aid Champion is to be aware and look for signs of mental health, offer time to talk to colleagues who may be experiencing difficulties, signpost them to further information or support, and refer, if appropriate, to a line manager or HR.

The college has since rolled out the Mental Health Awareness training to managers and learning facilitators, and a total of sixty people have attended this training.

Jocelyn said: “We are committed to supporting and encouraging a shared goal of positive wellbeing and a productive workplace, and this is just one of our initiatives aimed at improving health and wellbeing within the college.”

Warrington & Vale Royal College’s Winsford campus