The fifth CMHA member case study to be published in 2016, EY shares its comprehensive approach to creating a mentally healthy workforce and its ambitions for offering Mental Health First Aid training for employees.
EY is a pioneer of fostering good mental health in the workplace. Health EY is continuing and as part of this initiative, anyone who wishes to undertake the two day MHFA course is encouraged to do so.
A shorter Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course is suggested and available for different parts of the organisation and is becoming a core part of manager and counsellor training. EY has worked closely with MHFA England to tailor the training to the needs of the firm. In particular, case studies have been adapted to use language and scenarios that have most salience within the firm, EY’s own numbers and statistics feature in the course, and practical guidance has been incorporated into EY’s care pathways, ‘Buddy Scheme’ and leadership development course. Supplementary materials developed for the course include personal stories from EY people, covering areas from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar and self-harm, to coping with a divorce.
MHFA is a core part of ‘Thinking Differently’, EY’s approach to mental health. This is an end-to-end, integrated strategy covering awareness, prevention and treatment of mental health issues. The firm was thrilled to recently receive the Employee Benefits ‘Mental Health Resilience Strategy Award’ for this, highlighting how innovative and market leading its approach is.
“EY believes that by taking an integrated approach to mental health, it can provide the best possible support to employees on a day-to-day basis,” says Amy McKeown, Health, Mental Health and Well-being, People Advisory Services, adding that they also help clients to do this themselves.
The Buddy Scheme is linked to the firm’s Mental Health Network (one of seven employee-run, internal working groups that cover a range of disabilities). It is an informal support structure designed to provide practical guidance to those people who are actively helping others. The scheme links people with a buddy who has experience of a situation they themselves are currently facing — whether working with a mental health illness, returning to work following a mental health-related issue, or supporting someone else with a mental health problem. There are 80 buddies, of both sexes, at all levels and in all locations and service lines.
EY has become a recognised centre of expertise when it comes to tackling mental health issues at work, and an independent review from a researcher at the University of Oxford was overwhelmingly positive. However, the firm is by no means complacent and has taken on board suggestions by the researcher — including developing mandatory training for counsellors, senior managers and partners — in order to further improve its approach.
“Our aim is to ensure that physical and mental health get equal parity in the firm. MHFA training is a tool that helps us do that, and the more people who do the MHFA training, the more quickly we will achieve the necessary culture change,” concludes Amy.