09 Oct 2018
Icon - Health and Wellbeing
Hnad drawing of happy, neutral and unhappy faces on chalk board

Raising Awareness on World Mental Health Day

This blog post was written by Greg Austin, HR Director for Sodexo Healthcare, UK & Ireland.

Over the last year the HR, Learning & Development and Health & Safety teams have had a number of discussions about the increased exposure  to mental health questions and situations arising with our employees, patients and visitors to our hospitals. My team felt they wanted to increase their awareness about mental health so they could be prepared for any situations that arise.

With World Mental Health day coming up on the 10th October it felt that this was the right time to raise awareness and openly discuss this topic.

Not only are we seeing an increase in employee absence in this area but also an increase in challenging situations that our employees are facing every day with extreme situations such as the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing, London Terror attacks and violence and aggression in the workplace.

Sodexo already provides good support through the AXA ICAS Sodexo Supports Me programme and I wanted to go further by sponsoring and attending, alongside 12 of the team, to become mental health first aiders.

This supports our mission of improving people’s quality of life, and dovetails with our global Healthcare behavioural commitment to CARES (Compassion, Accountability, Respect, Enthusiasm, Service) and how we make a difference every day to our patients, visitors and colleagues.

The two day programme focused on facts, addressing myths, prejudices and stereotypes and providing practical and pragmatic tools and techniques. Personally, it gave me an informed understanding of the range of mental health conditions that exist, and as a result I’ll  be more confident in supporting a colleague or friend should the need arise in future, approaching them with greater understanding and empathy and directing them to professional help. I appreciate that I will not be able to “fix” their condition however with a greater understanding I should be able to avoid inflaming or exacerbating it or making them feel uncomfortable by doing or saying the wrong thing. I now appreciate that “give your head a shake” is not an appropriate response!

My next thought is to how we utilise and share the knowledge we have gained as a team, to see how we can incorporate learning for our front line teams, and offer appropriate support all year round and not just after extreme incidents.

Sodexo is running a global awareness campaign to all employees, to mark world Mental Health Day.

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