Mental health first aid training has helped the Wellcome Trust deal with a number of mental health issues presented by employees.
The medical research charity introduced a pilot mental health first aid training scheme with Mental Health First Aid for England in 2015, and fully launched in the beginning of 2016. Led by Natasha Gordon, project manager at Wellcome Trust, the scheme has created a network of employees that have been trained in how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and how to provide help.
There are mental health check point posters all around Wellcome, which advertise the mental health first aiders across all divisions. “There’s been a number of broader reasons why people have been using the network, from bouts of depression, both cyclical or seasonal depression disorders, some work-related [issues] because that happens everywhere; stigma-related issues where incidents have happened or comments have been made and they feel upset by it; [and] bereavement,” explains Gordon. “Quite a broad range of issues have been coming forward, which is good in the way that people feel able to talk about those things with us.”
The organisation also advertises external sources of support. Gordon says: “Mental health problems can come up at the weekend and out of hours so there is external support [employees] can access.”
In addition, Wellcome provides an employee assistance programme (EAP), occupational health services, an on-site gym, and private medical insurance (PMI). In July, the organisation upgraded the mental health support available through its PMI scheme to give employees the opportunity to get a psychiatric referral as opposed to having to via their GP. Wellcome has also created a bespoke guide for managers to support them in having conversations with staff.
“I really want Wellcome to be seen as an organisation that is committed to supporting mental health,” says Gordon.