RPM introduces ‘mental health first aiders’ to help combat mental health issues in the workplace

MHFA

Hugh Robertson, founder and chief executive of RPM believes that the wellbeing of employees is key to the company’s longevity.

He commented on the introduction: "Our people are arguably our business’ only asset, without them we don’t have a business. A happier and healthier team means better results will be achieved for us and for our clients. Our reputation as an employer is also improved, meaning people want to work for us and for longer and we can continue to attract world class talent."

As part of this initiative RPM recently trained eight employees (7% of RPM’s workforce) as Mental Health First Aiders. Ill mental health costs UK employers an estimated £35 bn each year - broken down, that's £10.6bn in sickness absence, £21.2bn in reduced productivity, and £3.1bn in replacing staff who leave their jobs for mental health-related reasons (source: MHFA England).

The eight MHFA’s work across different departments and levels of seniority to ensure they are accessible and everyone at RPM has someone they feel able to talk to. They were selected based on their motivation and understanding of mental health and wellbeing. They have been trained by Mental Health First Aid England, attending their full two day course to learn how to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis – and even potentially stop a crisis from happening.

What they can do:

  • Understand mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
  • Spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
  • Have the confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
  • Demonstrate enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
  • Guide you to further support - whether that’s self-help resources, through their employer, the NHS, or a mix

Imogen Almond, one of the MHFAs at RPM, comments "We are all excited to be Mental Health First Aiders and to make a real difference. The training from Mental Health First Aid England was very valuable, and we are already putting it to good use. We want everyone to talk about mental health more, create an environment where everyone at RPM feels they are supported and help everyone to take positive steps to improve their mental health."

As well as introducing MHFA’s to the company, RPM has also invited external experts to come into the agency to talk about how to boost your mental health, recently hosting Charlie Cannon on World Mental Health Day.

Although this is a step in the right direction to combating mental ill health in the workplace, Hugh feels like we still need to gain real momentum via a collaborative approach in creating a movement for more open workplaces.

Four RPM employees, including two of RPM’s MHFA’s, recently got involved with The Drum's Do It Day to create awareness of mental health on a wider scale.

Hugh Robertson sits on the board of the MAA where he is currently developing a similar initiative, working with the industry to destigmatise mental health.

Andy Black

All by Andy