Bournemouth: Ageas Insurance trains mental health first aiders

As continued lockdown restrictions put the topic of mental health even more firmly in the spotlight, one South Coast employer is going the extra mile to support its employees.

Ageas Insurance, which employs hundreds of people at its office in Bournemouth, has trained up a dedicated team of ‘mental health first aiders’.

And, with the Covid-19 pandemic creating the potential for people to feel more worried or isolated, the group of specially-trained volunteers are being even more vocal in their message that they’re there to help.

Ageas’ mental health first aiders aim to support employees by listening and providing vital signposting to people to professional help if it’s needed.

They can still provide assistance during the lockdown, either online or over the phone for those working from home.

Steve Croucher, senior aggregator marketing manager, is one of nearly 30 mental health first aiders at Ageas. He said:

“I am passionate about supporting people’s mental health and working to raise awareness and break down stigma and am delighted that Ageas supports and encourages us so well in our role. It is amazing that someone, anywhere in our business, who is struggling with their mental health, can send an email or make a phone call and get, virtually, immediate support from qualified Mental Health First Aiders, within the business.”

Lyn Nicholls, HR director at Ageas UK, said: “The pandemic has brought new challenges for all of us to navigate. Some might be feeling lonely, others stressed and some anxious about their health. Whatever people may be feeling, it’s important they know they are not alone. The wellbeing of our staff is incredibly important to us and our mental health first aiders are always here and ready to help.”

The mental wellbeing of staff has been a particular focus for Ageas during the Coronavirus pandemic.

As well as providing access to mental health first aiders, Ageas has organised everything from fitness challenges and colouring competitions to online groups for parents and wellbeing guides.

The insurance company has not furloughed any of its employees and around 90% of employees have continued to work from home since the initial lockdown earlier this year.

Nicholls said: “For some, home working has been more difficult and we’ve been identifying and speaking to those people to make sure they’re getting the right support. If it’s clear that it’s better for those people to be in the office for their mental health we’ve worked hard to support that, with strict social distancing and safety measures in place on site.”

Ageas has signed the Time to Change pledge – a movement which aims to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on October 10 every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is ‘mental health for all’.