Working together to support workplace mental health


07 / 10 / 2014 8.08am

The National Organisations Wellbeing Forum (NOWF) works collectively to support staff mental health. To celebrate World Mental Health Day, we show the positive steps our NHS organisations have been taking to raise awareness of mental health and support within the workplace.

NHS Employers

The NHS Employers organisation has developed a bespoke programme focusing on tackling mental health stigma and giving staff the tools to stay mentally well. It has committed to the Time to Change mental health pledge and has a dedicated intranet page that signposts to external organisations and features a podcast on meditation and mindfulness.

Sue Covill, director of employment services said;

"Although the number of frontline NHS staff is growing, we know that these roles are challenging. There has never been a more important time to make sure mental health is supported every bit as well as physical health. Mental health problems are not uncommon and NHS Employers will be playing our part to tackle its stigma and make supporting it appropriately an everyday part of working life.”

Public Health England

Public Health England supports its employees through occupational health and working with mental health partners on early intervention and resilience work. Public Health England is committed to its health and wellbeing strategy which includes mandatory line manager training, staff briefings, a network of 150 workplace wellbeing champions and its mental health first aid training programme.

Speaking in support of this work, Duncan Selbie, chief executive said;

"Mental health is as important as physical health when it comes to supporting our workforce to stay healthy and productive and part of encouraging them to reach their personal and professional potential. Mental health in the workplace is as much about how we train and support line managers, giving staff the skills to recognise early when they are in difficulty and making sure that we have support available 24 hours a day for people who need it.

‘We made a commitment as an organisation through the Public Health Responsibility Deal and Time to Change pledge and I don’t take these commitment lightly. Like many businesses, we’re going through change and at such times it is even more important to invest in staff health and wellbeing, its core business, not an optional extra.”

NHS England

NHS England has 240 staff members who are trained as mental health first aiders (MHFAs) to offer first line support to colleagues, help raise awareness for mental health issues and act as ambassadors for the promotion of positive mental wellbeing. It has provided posters and a presentation for MHFAs to advertise World Mental Health Day.

Department of Health

The Department of Health was the first Whitehall department to sign up to Time to Change and the Public Health Responsibility Deal pledge. It is now piloting and leading on mindfulness-based stress reduction training for staff. The Department of Health continues to deliver appropriate mental health first aid training, videos and awareness sessions to its staff and across Whitehall.

Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission’s health and safety wellbeing strategy includes pledges to the Public Health Responsibility Deal, Time for Change and the aspirations of the Mindful Employer to promote its commitment to the wellbeing of all its staff. Its strategy focuses on the five ways to wellbeing: Connect, Give, Take notice, Keep learning and Be active.


Monitor invited Dr David Walsh, an occupational health specialist to run a ‘healthy, heart and mind’ talk concentrating on healthy staff who feel able to fulfil their potential. They held a bespoke session for one of its directorates on how to manage and reduce stress. On 9 October, staff are attending a 'Be Mindful' sessions to encourage discussion around mental health and to normalise the subject.

Health Education England

Health Education England (HEE) was mandated by the DH to ensure 350,000 NHS staff have received Tier 1 dementia awareness training by March 2015. Through the creation and development of a national roll-out plan, in partnership with the relevant stakeholders, to date 287,671 have now been trained, with plans in place to roll out across the existing NHS workforce. Partnerships have been forged between HEE and other health and care organisations, e.g. the Alzheimer's Society, to enable NHS staff to gain knowledge and skills in this key priority agenda for dementia.

NHS Leadership Academy

The NHS Leadership Academy is preparing to run bespoke mental health awareness training to increase awareness of common mental health conditions. It will help its employees spot the early signs and symptoms of mental health conditions in themselves, their colleagues and the staff they support in the workplace, while giving them the tools to stay mentally well.

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