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A global tissue maker has launched ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ in its North West paper mills

A global tissue maker has launched ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ in its North West paper mills

by Danielle Thompson (April 2020)

A GLOBAL tissue maker has launched ‘Mental Health First Aiders’ in its North West paper mills.

Essity is putting mental health at the forefront of its commitment to employee health and safety with a new team of volunteer mental health first aiders at its paper mills in Skelmersdale and Manchester.

The company has a combined workforce of more than 200 operational and administrative staff between its Tawd Mill in Skelmersdale and Trafford Park Mill in Manchester.

A group of 24 volunteers from both sites took part in a two-day, internationally recognised Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training programme, which taught them how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, what to do when someone is experiencing an episode and where to access additional support.

Essity HR manager Michelle Goulden instigated the initiative after researching ways in which global business leaders are going the extra mile to take care of employee well-being.

She said: “With around one in four people in the UK affected by mental health in recent years, the plan was to introduce a pilot team of mental health first aiders on all shifts, across both sites.

“Work isn’t necessarily the driving force behind someone suffering poor mental health, but it’s important we look out for each other. In doing so, we hope to challenge the stigma around mental health, encourage conversation and raise awareness in the workplace.

“Now, as we face the unprecedented societal changes and uncertainty of the coronavirus, it’s important we take care of each other. Our mental health first aid volunteers are there to listen in confidence, offer important initial support to colleagues and guide them to additional professional help if necessary.”

So they’re easily identifiable, the volunteers wear specially designed uniforms with a mental health first aider motif. They were recently recognised by the company through an Essity Belief and Behaviours Global Manufacturing Care Award. The success of the scheme has led to it becoming a blueprint for other Essity sites in the UK and overseas to encourage colleagues to talk about their mental health as they would their physical health.

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