Insurance provider Allianz Partners UK has launched a network of 29 mental health champions for the 400 employees based at its headquarters in Croydon.
The newly qualified champions, who started training in April 2019 as part of the organisation’s wellbeing week activities, join an existing 28 mental health first aiders who began training in February 2018.
Growing its mental health team is the first step in the organisation’s plan to promote its mental health policy across the wider Allianz business of 21,500 employees; it is planning on increasing awareness by holding more wellbeing events in 2020.
The mental health champions, who are the first point of call for employees, were all volunteers. This was a different approach to the mental first aiders, who were recruited from each floor, with the majority having worked for Allianz for more than five years.
All 57 mental health ambassadors, including champions and first aiders, took part in extensive training provided by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA), during which they learnt how to notice the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and how to provide support and direction to those suffering from mental ill health.
Allianz has also introduced breakout spaces in the office to support the wellbeing of its employees, which provide activities such as a dart board, pool table and table tennis.
Employees can also take advantage of more traditional benefits, including an employee assistance programme (EAP), a free health risk assessment tool, covering both physical and mental health, and a wellbeing calendar with monthly communications from provider Westfield Health.
Phil Murfet, learning and adviser at Allianz Partners UK, said: “A lot of people probably wouldn’t associate the traditional insurance sector as being a positive provider of mental health guidance and support for employees. This is exactly why Allianz Partners UK wanted to be a firm that took the lead in promoting good mental health for all employees and offering strong and fundamental care wherever necessary. Employees would not think twice about seeing a physical first aider if they had an accident at work, but talking about their personal mental health is often a different story.
“It is important for us to be able to support all employees and offer non-judgemental advice on anything they may be stressed or anxious about, whether it be work related or not. The appointment of our mental health first aiders and champions is evidence of our commitment to cultivating a positive working environment and marks our first step towards widening our mental health training remit and ultimately, implementing a specific mental health policy.”