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Civica's Mental Health Champions make a difference

Introducing a mental wellbeing programme to complement our open and transparent culture

To decrease the disparity between physical and mental health, Civica has recently launched a Mental Health Champion programme to give employees quick and easy access to wellbeing support to meet their personal circumstances.

Employees were asked to register their interest in becoming a Mental Health Champion before receiving training from Psynthesis, an organisational health and wellbeing provider - equipping them with the knowledge and empathy required to effectively support colleagues struggling with their mental health in confidence.

In total, over 40 people have been trained as Civica Mental Health Champions, having learnt how to listen carefully, reassure and respond - even in a crisis - and signpost people to other services if necessary.

Kevin Garrington, owner of Psynthesis, commented: “Civica’s Mental Health Champion programme complements their existing range of support, addressing that some people prefer to have personal contact at work they can call or meet up with to confidentially chat through life’s challenges and where they can seek and be directed to the correct help and support.

“Of course, some people prefer not to talk about their wellbeing in the workplace. When an employer’s culture is open enough, that person still has the choice to come forward to seek support. This is where ongoing visibility and ease of access are key, such as contacting the Employee Assistance Programme for free and in confidence, finding self-help guides through the Intranet or approaching a Mental Health Champion that is in strictest confidence to seek help and support.”

In this year’s anonymous employee satisfaction survey, people praised the wellbeing support which Civica provides, sharing comments such as:

“I feel grateful that I work for this company as it champions the health and wellbeing of employees and nurtures us to find the right career path.”

“[Civica has a] friendly, inclusive environment with lots of thought for employee health, wellbeing and benefits. It is clear Civica values its employees.”

Julie Chell, Chief People Officer, said: “At Civica, our people look out for each other, and the Mental Health Champion programme certainly reflects how we work. We’re really pleased to roll out this initiative and give colleagues another means of support.”

Jayne Earl, Inside Sales Executive and Mental Health Champion, works four days a week at Civica and one day as a counsellor at Relate, a charity providing relationship support.

“The support which Mental Health Champions offer at Civica is an outlet for a person to share and offload day-to-day pressures, giving them perspective and easing the burden. We can signpost our colleagues if required too, such as to support groups or suggesting a doctor referral.

“As well, I volunteer at Cornerhouse, a charity providing group sessions for many mental health issues. A quarter of us will be faced with mental illness so it helps to remember that you’re not alone in the fight. We’re all human and gone are the days of perceiving someone with anxiety or depression to be weak or unable. Mental illness should be treated just like any physical illness after all.”

To find out more about the programme, hear it from one of Civica’s Mental Health Champions themselves, Lee Smith.