The North East’s biggest building society is enhancing the mental health support it provides for its 1,102 employees by signing up to the Time To Change campaign.
To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May), Newcastle Building Society is taking the Employer Pledge for the campaign, which aims to change the way people think and act about mental health in the workplace by implementing action plans that help them open up about mental health issues.
The Society already has 20 trained health and well-being advocates in place as part of its ongoing commitment to create a positive and healthy working environment, and has also previously trained 14 employees across the organisation to act as mental health first aiders.
The first aiders are trained to recognise the crucial early warning signs of mental ill health and to then help guide colleagues towards appropriate support.
The Society is working in partnership with the Better Health at Work scheme to deliver a wide range of health and well-being initiatives across its branch network and offices, and its long-term investment in its employees lead to it achieving the Gold standard in its most recent Investors in People (IIP) reaccreditation.
Patrick Ferguson, Strategy Planning and Risk Director who is chairing the Time To Change pledge at Newcastle Building Society, says: “We are committed to being a great place to work. As such, we should be setting the standard for the way in which we support our colleagues in every way we can.
“Integrating health and well-being into our day-to-day activities is an essential part of making the Society a great place to work and signing up to the Time To Change campaign is the latest way in which we’re working towards doing this.
“Mental health problems can affect friends, family, colleagues and any one of us at any time, and access to the right sort of help and support is essential in overcoming them.
“We are fully committed to ensuring the Society is a place where people can speak openly about mental health, and feel comfortable asking for help when they need it.”
Over 450 businesses, NHS trusts, universities and local authorities across the UK have already signed up to the Time to Change campaign, which is run by national charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, while around one in six British workers are believed to experience common mental illness.
Jo Loughran, interim director of Time to Change, adds: “We know it can be hard to talk about mental health, which is why we’re supporting employers to open up, to talk and to listen.
“Too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless, but with the right support, those of us with mental health problems can recover and have equal opportunities in all areas of life. Everyone’s attitude makes a difference and it’s fantastic to see organisations like Newcastle Building Society taking the lead.
“Many leading employers have found that making a strategic commitment to the mental well-being of their workforce not only benefits their staff but also their bottom line, improving productivity and staff retention. It’s time for businesses to make a change and start creating more mentally healthy workplaces.”
Time to Change is funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund and was set up to create a positive shift in public attitudes towards mental health problems.