Royal Mail’s mental health first aid programme aims to increase awareness and decrease stigma

Royal Mail launches mental health first aiders programme

Royal Mail Group introduced a mental health first aid programme to better support the wellbeing of its 140,000 staff.

Helping employees look after their wellbeing is a key part of its overall healthcare strategy. In June 2018, the organisation began working with Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) to provide employee volunteers with an extensive two-day training course. The programme shows trainees how to offer the right support and gives information on how to sensitively talk to employees. After passing the formal test, employees become the first point of contact for staff that are struggling with their mental health. Once fully trained, mental health first aiders wear a discrete compass badge to identify themselves to colleagues.

Dr Shaun Davis, global director for safety, health, wellbeing and sustainability at Royal Mail, says: “Getting a broad spectrum of people who represent our employee base was incredibly important when looking to train mental health first aiders. We received an overwhelming level of support from our workforce, which shows how much of an important topic it is.”

The training for the mental health first aiders also ensures that those individuals are aware of all the support available that can help their colleagues. “The additional training gives mental health trainers a better understanding of the services that we currently offer such as employee assistance programmes (EAP),” explains Davis. “Without this extra level of training, it would be difficult for staff to be aware of the mental health support available to them.”

Since the scheme’s launch, Royal Mail has onboarded 1,000 mental health aiders, with many more on the waiting list to participate in the training. The mental health first aid training is part of Royal Mail’s five-year Because Healthy Minds Matter programme that was launched in 2017 to support the mental health of employees. The strategy is built around a compass with four key aspects: increase awareness, decrease stigma, signpost to tools and support, and know where to get help in a crisis.

Alongside the training and EAP, Royal Mail also offers staff a mental health e-learning module, which provides information on how to better manage wellbeing through videos and articles.

During the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, Royal Mail has had a large number of staff expressing their interest in mental health first aider roles. “It has been incredibly positive during the pandemic to have so many employees express interest in mental health support,” says Davis. “It helps our staff to be kept on track and supported.”

The organisation is now aiming to increase its mental health first aider pool to 1,500 in the coming months.