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“We wanted mental and physical health to hold equal weight in our wellbeing programme. We decided on MHFA because it had a clinical rigour that underpinned the training that we valued.”


Started MHFA training
October 2013

Staff trained so far
750+


EY is a global professional services firm which employs over 14,000 people in the UK and Ireland. Through its wellbeing programme known as ‘Health EY’ and within this its ‘Thinking Differently’ programme which focusses specifically on mental health matters, EY has placed mental health firmly on its wellbeing agenda, introducing a number of policies, initiatives and training courses to tackle this important issue. 

One of the key aspects of this programme has been the roll out of MHFA throughout the organisation. Employees are being trained to act as a first point of call for staff facing mental health challenges or seeking advice. The firm has also formed a mental health buddy scheme to provide an informal support network to anyone affected by a mental 
health condition.


Why we train our staff in MHFA

Paul Quinlan, a Senior Manager in the Employee Relations team at EY explains the firm’s decision to invest in MHFA and says, “We wanted mental and physical health to hold equal weight in our wellbeing programme. We decided on MHFA because it had a clinical rigour that underpinned the training that we valued.”

“In the same way that anyone can get a cold or flu, anyone can be affected by a mental health issue.” 

EY’s philosophy around wellbeing is based on the idea that there should be similar approaches to mental and physical health. Paul explains, “In the same way that anyone can get a cold or flu, anyone can be affected by a mental health issue. In addition the common assumption is that most physical health problems are temporary and it’s generally expected the person will make a full recovery, whereas with mental health issues the perception tends to be the opposite.”  
 

Results

After attending a two day MHFA course, EY staff are able to provide help on a first aid basis and effectively guide a person who is experiencing a mental health issue towards the right support services. In the case of EY, this might be signposting the person to the Psychological Care Pathway or suggesting a referral to the firm’s Occupational Health team. It might also just be having a friendly chat and reassuring the person that support is available.

Explaining how the firm promoted the training Paul says, “The course was offered to staff on a purely voluntary basis and we publicised it via our firm’s daily news email bulletin, the wellbeing intranet pages and our Employee Network, Ability EY, which includes a Mental Health Network. The uptake for MHFA training surpassed our expectations and the spaces filled up immediately.

We now have over 550 partners and staff trained in MHFA and with more courses booked, this number will continue to increase over time.”

Importantly, support for MHFA has taken hold among the Board, who have also attended an MHFA session. The outlook is summed up by Steve Wilkinson, Leader of Advisory at EY UK & Ireland, who has been on the management team for the last four years and is Partner Sponsor of Health EY.

Steve says, “Within our programme we have placed an increased emphasis on tackling the stigma of mental health, which is often viewed as the last workplace taboo. The introduction of Mental Health First Aiders and a buddy system will supplement our existing employee networks, providing a great way to get people talking about an issue that affects over one in four people in the UK.”


What the future holds

EY has committed to delivering MHFA across the organisation for the foreseeable future and with such a big demand from staff for the training, it is clear there has been no need to persuade employees that mental health should be considered as important as physical health. 

"We want caring for your own mental health and that of the people around you to become business as usual at EY.”

As Paul explains, “Our ‘Thinking Differently’ programme aims to educate and build awareness of mental health and wellness because we want caring for your own mental health and that of the people around you to become business as usual at EY.”