“For 96% of attendees, it helped them to develop a greater understanding of mental health and signs of mental ill health, whilst making them more mindful of their own wellbeing.”


Started MHFA training
July 2016

Staff trained so far
1,350
 

Royal Mail Group (RMG) is one of the UK’s largest employers and is committed to effective support strategies and tools that can make a positive difference to its employees who are directly or indirectly affected by mental health issues.

In 2016 RMG signed the Time to Change Pledge and introduced Mental Health First Aid training for managers. In October 2017 RMG launched its five-year mental health strategy ‘Because Healthy Minds Matter’. The strategy is sponsored by Dr Shaun Davis, Global Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing & Sustainability and has four aims:

  1. Increase awareness

  2. Decrease stigma

  3. Signpost to tools and support

  4. Know where to get help in a crisis

RMG combines both group-wide programmes and local activity to support healthy minds. Leadership and engagement helps achieve the company’s aims to increase mental health conversations and support the ‘normalisation’ of mental health conditions.

The company has introduced a simple acronym, ACT:

  • Acknowledge
    If you or someone close to you isn’t their “usual” self.

  • Communicate
    If you are not feeling okay speak to someone about it. If you are worried about someone else, ask them if they are okay and encourage them to talk and take time to listen.

  • Take action
    Find out what support is available and encourage others to do the same.

Raising awareness and reducing stigma through mental health education is a key strand of activity for RMG. Dr Shaun Davis says:

“Since launching our five-year mental health strategy a year ago, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of mental wellbeing workplace tools, support and signposting. We will continue to build an inclusive culture through strategies, raising awareness, leadership influence and mental health tools such as Mental Health First Aid training.”

A recent evaluation of the training showed that for 96% of attendees, it helped them to develop a greater understanding of mental health and signs of mental ill health, whilst making them more mindful of their own wellbeing. Additional comments included:

“Training was excellent and actually made me realise I needed to get additional help myself”

“I have had several chances to put into practice some really helpful support and offer advice . . . I feel more confident in approaching individuals”

The success of the training has led RMG to introduce its own MHFA England trained instructors, which will increase training capacity and availability to upskill as many colleagues as possible each year.
 

Mick's story

Mick Wood has been a postman with Royal Mail for over 20 years, and is passionate about improving discussion and support of mental health in his workplace.

Mick suffers from depression and elements of PTSD due to his experiences as a soldier in the first Gulf War. “Everyone around me is aware of my mental health conditions,” he explains. “I am deliberately very open about my mental health with my colleagues, because I know talking about mental health can help to remove the stigma around it.”

Mick undertook Mental Health First Aid training, which was arranged by the communication Workers Union (CWU). He regularly uses the skills he learnt in his MHFA training at work, helping colleagues who may be showing signs of mental ill health. “On one occasion, I was working alongside a colleague of mine, Caroline. I’ve known her for a couple of years now, so I know when she’s having good or bad days. I could see that on this particular day she was emotional and showing signs of distress, so I approached her and asked if she wanted to get a coffee and talk.

“At the warehouse, we have a ‘quiet room’ on the floor, which has proved really useful when someone is struggling with their mental health. Caroline and I sat down in there and I encouraged her to tell me how she was feeling using my MHFA skills around listening non-judgementally. She told me that she was feeling low and having difficulties, and after discussing it thoroughly we agreed that I would speak to her manager. Together, we arranged for her to go through a rehabilitation process.”

"MHFA taught me what to look out for and as a result I’m much more empathetic and able to spot when someone might be struggling."

The rehabilitation process meant that Caroline was able to continue working on reduced hours until she felt better, and meant she avoided having to go on sick leave. “In my experience, sick leave can sometimes be detrimental for mental health issues because you end up feeling isolated,” explains Mick. “Caroline was able to keep working but at a rate that suited her until she recovered.”

Mick’s MHFA training also helped him to be more aware of what mental ill health might look like in others. “Before I did the MHFA training, I would have found it more difficult to spot the signs of mental ill health in others,” he notes. “That might sound strange coming from someone who has depression, but in reality depression is a very insular experience and it’s hard to recognise the signs in other people. MHFA taught me what to look out for and as a result I’m much more empathetic and able to spot when someone might be struggling.”

As well as at work, Mick has found the training useful in his personal life. He adds, “The MHFA training also made me realise that I need to look after my own mental health more and keep an eye on how I’m feeling, as well as supporting others.”