ESS Expands Mental Health First Aider Programme
During the last 18 months, Compass Group subsidiary ESS has worked with Mental Health First Aid England to train over a hundred mental health first aiders.
Employees ranging from frontline operatives to members of the company's senior leadership team have participated in the programme which aims to promote mental wellness and encouraging open, honest dialogue about mental health in their workplaces - with participants frequently citing the positive impact of a friendly face at work as their primary reason for getting involved.
The course which is being delivered in collaboration with Mental Health First Aid England, equips participants with an understanding of mental health conditions and strategies for helping people who may be struggling, including listening and signposting to support. Upon certification, mental health first aiders join monthly "check-in" calls which further support them in their role. ESS plans to continue growing and evolving its mental health first aider community, with more training scheduled for later this year and into 2022.
The mental health first aid programme forms part of the company's wider wellbeing strategy which comprises four pillars; Healthier Mind, Healthier Body, Healthier Food and Healthier World. ESS' nutrition and wellbeing team promote mental and physical health and sustainability through regular activities including wellness webinars and mindful moments sessions, as well as a monthly wellness newsletter.
Ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10th October, the defence, energy and government services caterer hosted a special event to discuss a variety of topics relating to mental health and celebrate the dedication of its mental health first aiders.
Mark Webster, managing director, explains: "Many of us will experience mental health challenges at some point in our lives – it’s so important that people realise it’s ok not to be ok and feel able to ask for help when they need it. We want to create a culture of openness around mental health within ESS and training our colleagues in mental health first aid is a fantastic tool to enable this.
"I am delighted by the number of volunteers who have completed the course and the way it’s bringing the conversation alive across our business. If just one person feels able to open up about their difficulties as a result, then our objectives for the programme will be achieved."
Harjeet Moore, Head of People, adds: "The introduction of mental health first aiders was a key part of our people plan prior to the pandemic and the impact of Covid-19 has brought concerns about mental wellbeing to the forefront. We need to ensure that we are supporting our teams following their experiences over the past 18 months and there is no doubt that having 100+ team members trained and ready puts us in a much stronger position to do this."
In 2019 parent company, Compass Group UK & Ireland, launched YouMatter, a dedicated, mental health support campaign to complement a partnership with support charity, Hospitality Action, which addresses the stigma surrounding workplace mental health issues within the foodservice and hospitality sectors.