Ceuta Group uses mental health first aid training as first step to broader support

Treacy Webster, director of talent management and development at consumer brand business Ceuta Group, was aware of a growing need to help employees who might be struggling with mental health issues, but it was an HR forum put on by a local recruitment agency that encouraged her to take action. “[It] had a speaker talking about mental health, and I was moved by some of the stories,” she explains.

Alongside other HR professionals, Webster then undertook a two-day mental health first aid course run by Ouch Training, which had been involved in the forum. “It’s called mental health first aid to give it the same urgency as physical health first aid, but it’s completely different,” says Webster. “It relies entirely on a person’s objectivity and their ability to remain calm and rational.”

Although having members of the HR team trained in mental health first aid was a good starting point, there was also a need for managers to better understand the issue. “We put on additional training, run by Dorset Mind, for senior managers at Ceuta Healthcare and created mental health champions,” says Webster. “We had at least one person from each team attend the training so they would be able to manage any conversations.”

In all, around 50 managers from Ceuta Healthcare, the largest business in the group with around 200 of its total 420 employees, took part in the one-day training course.

The business has also highlighted the issue of mental health more generally. “On World Mental Health Day, I sent out a message about [the] 10 ways we can look after our mental health,” Webster says. “It’s about trying to reduce the stigma.”

Some 18 months in, it can be hard to measure the success of such initiatives, but managers now have a greater understanding of the pressure people may be under, explains Webster. “Things can’t change overnight, but we hope that they have a broader perspective on things,” she says. “That’s a big first step.”