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Financial Ombudsman Service – Winner 2019, Best for Mental Health & Wellbeing

3 Key Points 

  • Mental health first aiders are destigmatising mental health issues. 
  • Changes to working environments and patterns are helping people stay healthy. 
  • Staff sickness absence has nearly halved. 

 “I have been dealing with stress, anxiety and depression for a while now. I’ve had regular occupational health meetings and I’ve found that moving to part-time hours will help my mental wellbeing. This will be a great step as I am taking control of the situation to ensure I do not go off sick again.” 

Financial Ombudsman Service employee 

Summary 

A wide range of activities and communications to de-stigmatise mental health, with mental health first aiders, ‘boosting resilience sessions’ and tips on how to start a conversation about mental health has helped to drive down sickness absence rates. 

Making changes to employees’ working environment or working pattern is helping people stay healthy now a new workplace adjustment framework is in place. The programme aims to help employees with disabilities, including mental health issues, perform to their best ability. It includes identifying barriers that hold employees back and finding solutions, such as changing hours or location, or using different IT equipment and software.  

More than 100 workplace adjustment referrals have now been made with everyone either receiving immediate support, or referred for further consultation with a specialist disability adviser. 

Newly trained mental health first aiders are making a big difference in de-stigmatising mental health issues and encouraging conversations about challenges employees face. Employees have discussed issues such as panic attacks, insomnia, domestic violence and suicidal thoughts with mental health first aiders. 

The company runs workshops on boosting resilience for all employees and offers flexible working to help people achieve a good work life balance. Employees are also encouraged to join a variety of employee networks, including groups for parents and mental wellbeing, that all provide peer support. 

The organisation has dramatically reduced sickness absence because of its new approach to mental health and wellbeing. In January 2018 staff sickness absence was 22.8 per cent. By December 2018 the number had almost halved to 12.8 per cent.

The work of mental health first aiders is also credited with savings of £95,000 because employees are seeking and receiving help sooner and don’t need time off sick.