10 September 2019
In May 2019, 45 colleagues from different roles and brands across FirstPort were trained by Mental Health First Aid England to become the company’s first mental health first aiders (MHFA). They will provide our colleagues with someone who can listen – and not judge – when they are feeling down or have emotional distress.
The MHFA are there to give immediate care to someone before the appropriate professional medical care can be provided if required, just like a regular first aider would do for a physical need. Their role is to actively listen, provide immediate assistance and support and refer the person on to the appropriate professional care whether that is to our Employee Assistance Programme offering 24-hour telephone counselling, GP or local wellbeing centres.
There are challenges in every job and we sometimes also have to cope with difficult circumstances outside of work, so knowing that there is someone at the end of the phone who is trained and willing to help us when times feel tougher than normal could make a massive difference.
We have an internal intranet area where the contact details with a short biography is provided of every MHFA, so colleagues do not have to contact people within their own particular department or brand should they not wish to. It is very important that the MHFAs also feel that they are in a ‘good place’ to be able to provide support to others. There is an option for each MHFA’s details to be switched off for a period of time should they wish it.
Currently, we have 35 ‘live’ MHFAs. Ensuring the wellbeing of the MHFAs is also very important and there is a closed Yammer group providing articles, YouTube clips, support and information. On 10th September, we ran a Forum providing the MHFA team with network time, additional training on mindfulness, active listening and having difficult training to ensure they are able to continue to provide the support to the other colleagues and that their own mental wellbeing is being cared for.
Since the programme went live in June we have assisted ten colleagues either by initiating the conversation when we have recognised the need due to a situation or with colleagues ringing an MHFA directly. It is important that we monitor the type of concerns that people are experiencing and then initiate any necessary company response should there be a need for it.