CDS Defence Support embeds mental health first aid to support workforce in 2019


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In the same week that we announced our support of the veteran's mental health charity Combat Stress, we also added to our pledge to improve mental health awareness in the workplace by investing in training for Mental Health First Aiders at CDS Defence Support.

Richard Bradley, CDS DS Managing Director said of the training "With many organisations such as WH Smith, Ford and Royal Mail calling for an update on Health & Safety regulations, we wanted to ensure we were ahead of the curve when it came to providing support for staff, for both their physical and mental health, by training our workforce to become Mental Health First Aiders. This is especially relevant given our recent support of Combat Stress, the veteran's mental health charity, and our commitment to the Defence Employee Recognition Scheme"

Safety Engineer Josef Erskine and Marketing Manager Corrina Gee attended a two-day course designed to provide an understanding of mental health conditions, the factors that may affect mental health and the best way to approach a situation of someone in the workplace suffering from mental ill health.

Joe said of the training "It was a tough few days which touched on some really difficult subjects but, for me, it really helped to build my confidence around how to approach people and what to say to help them. Subconsciously, you are always very aware of not wanting to say the 'wrong' thing, but this course reassured us that we're not counsellors, we don't need to have all the answers, but that our job was to be vigilant, to provide support, open up those lines of communication and ultimately point them in the direction of the trained professionals who would be able to help"

Corrina agrees "We were taught the ALGEE approach (Approach, Assess, Assist, Listen, Give, Encourage) which made us realise the emphasis would sometimes have to be on us. In the same way that you'd ask a colleague if they were ok if they looked physically unwell, it's also ok to do that if someone is behaving in a way which is out of character. It's only by being open and having these conversations that we will start to overcome the stigma of mental health in the workplace"

According to MHFA in any one year, approximately one in four people will experience at least one diagnosable mental health issue. Mental health is the largest single source of burden of disease in the UK and there is a limited understanding of mental health issues due to the long-standing stigma surrounding it.

As a result of their training, Joe and Corrina are working with the firms HR department to design and implement a mental health programme to promote good mental health and provide support for employees experiencing mental ill health such as anxiety or depression.

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