According to NHS figures, one in four people will experience mental ill health in the course of their lifetime. So it’s no wonder it often affects work – the place where many people spend so much of their time.
One Manchester workplace, CUE Marketing, has taken a proactive approach to the issue. They’ve become one of the first agencies in the North West to have a qualified Mental Health First Aider on their team.
CUE’s managing director, Nick Boyle, is now qualified in the role after completing a course with Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA).
This is part of the MHFA’s efforts to help businesses increase the amount of support available in the workplace, following their recent revelation that mental ill health costs UK employers £34.9 billion per year.
“Mental health awareness and understanding is a cause I am very passionate about,” said Nick.
“By having the right support structures in place – in and out of work – we can make a real difference to those around us. The team here are the most important asset we have; without them, there is no business. This is the case for many businesses.
“A happier and healthier team means a better work environment, higher productivity and better results for us and our clients. But it’s about more than that. We spend a huge chunk of our lives at work, and I believe that this time should be as enjoyable and stress-free as possible.”
Mental Health First Aiders can provide a valuable first point of contact for people who may be experiencing mental health distress. Although they are not qualified to provide therapy or medical help, they can provide a non-judgemental support service to others.
Nick’s training means that he can support colleagues as well as encouraging mental health openness. And whether it is discussing stress, dealing with workplace worries or just encouraging people to talk through their feelings, Nick feels it is making a difference.
“Since the course, team members have expressed that they feel completely comfortable coming to me with any issues they are facing which impact their time in work,” he says.
“They have also expressed that they are confident in my ability to be non-judgemental and point them in the appropriate direction,” he adds.
In engaging with Mental Health First Aid England courses and having a Mental Health First Aider on the team, CUE is not only setting a positive example, but taking the lead, too.
“It’s pleasing to see that CUE Marketing has taken a proactive approach to supporting mental health in the workplace,” said Jaan Madan from MHFA England.
“Training the company’s managing director in Mental Health First Aid demonstrates a positive, top-down approach and will ensure that all staff know exactly who to approach for support.
“Reducing the stigma around mental ill health is crucial for a healthy workplace, and this development will help encourage a culture of compassion, non-judgemental conversation, and togetherness.”
CUE Marketing is also keen for other businesses to get on board – inspired by Manchester’s ethos and mental health awareness. A number of existing mental health organisations and charities in the city are already making a difference including The Samaritans, The Horsfall and Manchester Mind.
Nick is determined that other workplaces should follow suit, making use of the range of training available.
“Manchester is a wonderful place for businesses to grow and flourish,” he says. “However, we want other businesses to ensure that their employees aren’t feeling lost or alone and are supported by the companies that they work so hard for.
“By encouraging businesses to support their employees’ mental health, we hope to support Manchester in becoming the best city to work within in the UK.”