Avenues introduces its first Mental Health Champions - Avenues Group
30 - 1993-2023

Avenues introduces its first Mental Health Champions

Wednesday 11th of October 2023

Around 1 in 7 people experience a mental health difficulty at work. With this in mind Avenues has recruited its first set of mental health ‘Champions’ from volunteer employees.

Avenues Mental Health Champions or First Aiders scheme has been introduced by Learning and Development Manager Mandy Bassett who had seen it work successfully in other organisations, particularly during the pandemic. Now she sees it being useful for new pressures “At the time it was for the mental health issues related to Covid. For Avenues, it’s based around current issues such as cost of living and the pressures that go with operational roles in particular.”

The scheme asked for volunteers from across the Avenues subsidiaries which span from East Midlands and Cambridgeshire to Surrey and Kent, including London. A total of six people have been recruited along with two project leads. The group underwent training in collaboration with Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) and will undergo continual training throughout their time as a Champion.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a training course which teaches people how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing a mental health issue. Mandy thinks getting help early on is crucial, especially when it may be difficult to approach another team member ;

“It’s important that we recognise those staff who may be experiencing poor mental health and provide them with good support and early intervention.  Mental Health First Aiders provide a safe environment for staff to discuss any issues that they may feel uncomfortable discussing with their manager.  Sometimes it may just be a listening ear, but they can also direct them to sources of professional help and other support where required.”

Day Wells one of the scheme’s project leaders, who also gives courses in mindfulness at Avenues, is delighted to be part of the scheme;

“It is clear the spotlight of mental health is shining much brighter than ever before and our intention is to ensure Avenues staff have more than just one outlet for those who are going through difficulty.  The introduction of qualified Mental Health First Aiders really shows Avenues invests in its staff, in well-being as a whole and ensures we can provide good support throughout”.

In addition to the the Mental Health Champion’s scheme Avenues has a number of other resources available to employees including mindfulness courses and practices and a 24-hour free counselling hotline. More information can be found at https://www.avenuesgroup.org.uk/jobs-and-careers/benefits-and-rewards/