Mental health is key to productivity, says training firm

A specialist training company is urging UK businesses to appoint a ‘mental health first aider’ in a bid to reduce sickness costs and improve productivity, 

Acacia Training is based in Stoke-on-Trent but provides training throughout England, including 2-day courses on becoming qualified ‘mental health first aiders’. The course trains individuals to spot the signs of mental illness, provide early intervention, signpost relevant support and protect themselves while performing the mental health first aid role.

Victoria Sylvester, Managing Director at Acacia Training, explains: “There is more and more research coming out to show the impact of employee wellbeing on company performance.

Stats from the Health and Safety Executive show that more than 11.7m working days are lost every year due to stress related illness, and the recent CIPD/Simply Health report into health and wellbeing at work found that more than 55% of respondents had reported an increase in common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

There was also evidence that the number of people coming into work when they are ill, known as ‘presenteeism’ has more than tripled since 2010.”

Victoria employs 130 staff across two training companies and 2 care homes. She believes that businesses can save money and boost productivity by introducing wellbeing initiatives and training designated staff to spot the early signs that a member of staff may be struggling.

Acacia Training director calls for action on workplace wellbeing

Victoria Sylvester of Acacia Training

She says: As an employer, I’ve come to realise that there can be a number of triggers to an employee’s mental wellbeing, which can affect their ability to perform to their best. This could be due to long term health conditions, terminal illness, bereavement, divorce or separation, money worries, work life balance, parenting, or a number of other circumstances which seriously affect employees and their productivity in their role.

As a business owner you have two choices, to bury your head in the sand, hope it will ‘blow over’ and that employees can sort their own issues out in their own time, or you take a pro-active approach with early intervention and putting the right support in place.

At Acacia Training, we have trained some staff to be mental health first aiders, as well as looking at how health and wellbeing can be promoted in the organisation and offering employee assistance programmes, flexible working and starting a company choir.

I started the choir to improve work place happiness and ensure we work closely together as colleagues. We have 17 choir members already, who meet one evening a week after work here at our offices. We are working with Ashley Mellor of the Staffordshire Choirs Association and feedback has been extremely positive. Everyone enjoyed doing something completely different and fun together.”

Acacia Training provides apprenticeships and training in health and social care, childcare, beauty, dental nursing, safeguarding and mental health.

To arrange mental health first aid training, book a place online with Acacia Training. The next 2-day course takes place in June 2018, costing £286.66 including VAT, per person.

Further sessions are available each month in Stoke-on-Trent or at clients’ own company premises.