Swindon & Wiltshire Business News


Housing association smashes mental health first aider target

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Mental health first aiders from Aster GroupMental health first aiders from Aster GroupHousing association Aster Group is leading the way in promoting mental health in the workplace – appointing more than 100 mental health first aiders and being recognised nationally for its efforts.

Since signing the Time to Change pledge just under a year ago the company has made huge steps to alter the way its workplace thinks and acts about mental health.

Part of that commitment has seen it nearly double its target of training 100 colleagues to become mental health first aiders. 150 colleagues have been trained across the business in mental health first aid to help them better support each other and their customers, with another 16 due to be trained in the next few weeks.

Its approach to mental health and wellbeing has also seen Aster employ a full time mental health partner and encourage its employees to raise money for mental health charities, with all monies match-funded.

Over the last eleven months the organisation has raised just under £2,000 for MIND by taking part in events like RED January, the Driving Challenge, and office bake sales.

Bjorn Howard, chief executive at Aster Group said: “Mental health remains one of the last taboos in this country – particularly in the workplace. Yet it is fundamentally important that we have systems in place and offer help to people facing mental health issues.

“We want to help break down some of the barriers and prejudices of mental health. We believe it’s very important that we talk openly and honestly about mental health related issues and that we are there for colleagues and customers.”

Aster’s commitment was recently recognised by the UK & European Employment Engagement Awards as the housing association was announced as a finalist in the Employee Wellbeing category, alongside the likes of Visa, RBS and the NHS.

Aster’s plans for the future include training even more mental health first aiders, educating and supporting menopause in the workplace, helping reduce the stigma by sharing personal stories, and continuing to offer match funding and volunteering days so its colleagues can give back to mental health charities of their choice.

On Thursday the group marked Time to Talk Day, a national initiative to get people talking about mental health. www.time-to-change.org.uk/time-talk-day