Case Study

A BWOC initiative: first aid for mental ill health 

Recognising the negative impacts of mental ill health on both individuals and business, nationwide bulk liquid fuel distributor BWOC introduced an initiative to provide support for employees.

A BWOC initiative: first aid for mental ill health

As we continue to cast an important spotlight on the importance of wellbeing in the sector, we speak with Elaine Quick who shares more about the company’s approach and how it led to her current role as a Mental Health First Aider for BWOC. 

What inspired your decision to become a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA)?

I have always found the way the mind works inspiring, in how our thoughts and emotions shape our lives and have taken various courses to help gain greater insight. Mental Health is so important and I find this a fascinating area of study.

Can you share when the Mental Health First Aiders initiative began?

I was approached by the Managing Director who recognised my passion for the topic, to participate in Workplace Mental Health Training. The group wanted to provide a Mental Health Team to provide support to employees, during personal challenges they may encounter.

Could you delve deeper into the MHFA course?

The MHFA course covers in-depth topics surrounding mental health; helping people gain a better understanding of how to prevent issues from becoming more serious and how to assist others in a crisis. The course also covers common myths, stigma and discrimination, provides useful statistics and helpful resources. Finding the material so valuable, we felt compelled to share it with our teams.

Was this the inception of the internal MHFA team?      

Following our September 2020 course, an official MHFA Team was introduced within the group as planned. However, additionally, we decided to proactively promote wellbeing, by writing articles on Mental Health topics and sharing them with our teams. We also plan fun activities throughout the year for our community of employees to come together. We now have a growing MHFA team, expanding across the globe, collectively raising awareness of Mental Health issues.

How does the initiative operate?

Elaine: Through our company online platform, anyone can reach out to any of the MHFA Team, where our contact details are readily available. This can be personally or anonymously and regardless of their location. Whilst we are not professionals, we can give others our time, compassion in a non-judgemental way and guide individuals towards professional support if necessary.

“We are focused on providing support to your workplace through adapted training and new resources. We will support your organisation to look after the mental health of you employees”

MHFA England

An excerpt from one of the articles Elaine shared with the community of employees at BWOC

Mental ill health is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, emotion and behaviour, whereby they may feel overwhelmed and unable to cope effectively or engage in daily activities. Some people may only ever experience one episode of mental ill health in their lifetime, while others may have many episodes with positive times of wellness in-between.

Life throws many things at us suddenly due to an event or it may build up gradually over time, having an adverse effect on how an individual feels and behaves. At work, you may find it hard to concentrate or focus and tasks may take much longer. You may become indecisive or make risky decisions. You may find it hard to interact with people at work, or you may have difficulty keeping to set working times. Absenteeism or presenteeism also play a part.

Many individuals choose not to seek professional help due to the stigma or discrimination and some may or may not want to talk to family members or work colleagues and managers. As an organisation, we realise the importance for all its members to have in place a dedicated team of Mental Health First Aiders, who care and can listen without being judgemental; helping you deal with times when you feel troubled.

Whilst we are unable to provide professional help, we are able to guide you to the many resources available within the UK, including local support or online peer support groups. Please note, that you have the choice to remain anonymous. We are here to provide continued support to promote positive well-being for all employees. If you have any concerns that you are facing, no matter what they may be, please be reassured that we are here to offer help and support to you.

Statistics from a 2020 Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England report on mental ill health in the workplace indicate:

• 1 in 6 workers will experience depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress at any one time

• In 2018/19, stress, depression or anxiety were responsible for 44% of all cases of work-related ill health and 54% of all working days lost due to health issues in GB

• 1 in 5 people take a day off due to stress. Yet, 90% of these people cited a different reason for their absence

• Every year it costs business £1,300 per employee whose mental health needs are unsupported

• Mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs £34.9 billion each year

• 69% of UK line managers say that supporting employee wellbeing is a core skill, but only 13% have received mental health training. 35% of line managers reported a wish for basic training in common mental health conditions