Championing wellbeing and setting new standards
After taking on this role, my first action was to lead the transformation of the Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) network into a formal business output, on par with physical first aid. I introduced an ethical code of practice, improved diversity among the network to better reflect the organisation, broadened coverage across all of DE&S’ UK sites, and created a portal to make it easier for staff to access MHFA. Since then, our MHFA network has increased from 30 practitioners to almost 400 across DE&S and our sister agency, the Submarine Delivery Agency. It’s considered an exemplar in the MOD.
My work over the last few years has also led to my appointment as the Civilian Co-Chair of the whole-force Defence Mental Health and Wellbeing Network.
Removing the stigma surround mental health challenges
People often think of health and safety as being about forms, policies and process, but it is also about communication. Through campaigns, workshops and innovative initiatives like ecotherapy, we are normalising the language around psychological health to ensure it is recognised to be as much part of people’s DE&S experience as all other areas of their working life. We have seen the positive impact of removing the stigma surrounding mental health challenges and empowering staff to engage with available support. Staff are able to access resources when they need them, which ultimately supports the building of emotionally intelligent and resilient teams. Getting it right is not just about design, process or capability, it’s about humans interacting with one another.