Investing in mental health awareness training

Thomson Environmental Consultants are known for leading the way in innovation in our industry. This ethos is evident in the way we care for our employees.

Part of our employee care includes providing first aiders for physical ailments, but also for mental wellbeing. So recently four of our staff – across our offices – underwent training with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England to become qualified mental health first aiders.

The two-day course went into depth on issues that people can face, showed how to recognise the symptoms and went through the best ways for people to work through and overcome them.

What is a mental health first aider?

A mental health first aider is a suitably trained person in the workplace that is available, without notice, to speak with someone who may be experiencing the symptoms of mental ill health or feeling like an existing condition is worsening.

Mental health awareness training course materials and certificate © Rachel Young
Mental health awareness training course materials and certificate © Rachel Young

Our mental health first aiders have been given the training and resources to offer initial support and then signpost people towards available resources or professional advice, if necessary. In some situations, line manager involvement could be useful in adapting day-to-day work life balance.

Why have mental health first aiders?

It is estimated that 1 in 4 people experience a mental health issue in any given year, and that 1 in 6 employees is depressed, anxious or suffering from stress related problems at any one time (Source: Labour Force Survey – Health and Safety Statistics for Great Britain. Health and Safety Executive, 2015).

Although not always apparent, mental ill health is common, and the causes are complex and unique to each person. However, we know that, in addition to other causes, work can trigger or aggravate some of these issues.

Our mental health first aiders have been trained to understand the early symptoms of mental health issues, and to recognise that everyone is different. Personality, other external pressures and coping strategies all contribute to determining how an individual can cope with pressure.

Man and woman sitting at a table talking over coffee – Joshua Ness / Unsplash
Man and woman sitting at a table talking over coffee – Joshua Ness / Unsplash

MHFA have found that if people who are experiencing the early symptoms of mental ill health feel able to talk about them – particularly in the workplace – it helps prevent the problem escalating into something more serious.

Thomson’s policy on mental health support mean that staff know that they are encouraged and will be supported through any mental health issues. By having trained staff on hand, and supportive line-managers, we aim to promote wellbeing at work and support good mental health.

What are we doing at Thomson to promote wellbeing?

Communication is key! By having trained staff and line managers who feel comfortable talking about mental health with colleagues, we can offer the correct support and make sure employees are signposted in the right direction, ensuring they can continue to work successfully.

We are continuing to promote an ethos whereby staff know that it’s okay to talk about mental health and that the company are willing to make reasonable adjustments to help them do their job.

Research has shown (source: New Economics Foundation) that learning provides the right stimulus to help ease symptoms of mental ill-health. On-going education at work is key in how we do things and not only do our multitude of internal and external training courses help people develop their skills and careers, but hopefully help them to enjoy their work experience and boost their confidence.

Thomson staff collecting rubbish on a beach clean © Thomson Environmental Consultants
Thomson staff collecting rubbish on a beach clean © Thomson Environmental Consultants

Our flexible working hours allow people to balance their work responsibilities around their personal lives; lunch time ‘hacky-sack’, discounted gym memberships and organised outdoor adventures and activities, such the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, and beach cleans are some of the ways in which staff are encouraged to keep active and engaged – great for both a healthy body and mind.

Staff play hacky-sac during their lunch break © Thomsonec
Staff play hacky-sac during their lunch break © Thomsonec

Want to know more?

If you want to find out more about stress, anxiety and depression, have a look at the NHS ‘Moodzone’ site which offers a whole host of great resources, self-help and treatment options. You can also find more information on the mental health first aiders website.

Interested in a career at Thomson? Check out our latest vacancies.