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Date: 16 May 2023

Author: Eleanor Collins

We all know that life can be challenging at times both at home and at work. That was especially true during the pandemic when so many people were left isolated and working alone. Working conditions and the environment can have a huge impact on how we feel.

At MSP Capital we want to do all we can to protect and promote mental health and ensure our team continue to have the right work-life balance. To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (15 – 21 May 2023) we’re highlighting the initiatives we are taking to support our people and communities. Thank you to Melissa Parker, our Office Manager & People Advisor, for sharing the details in this interview.

What is going on nationally with regard to people’s mental health?

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve been doing some research into mental health in the UK.  Around 10 million adults will experience a mental health issue each year, according to MHFA, Mental Health First Aid England. Mental wellbeing doesn’t just impact your personal life, but your work life too. Mental health issues in the workplace affect around one in seven people. The last fact that really struck me is that each year, mental health problems cost the UK economy at least £117.9 billion.

This year’s awareness week theme is anxiety, with the hashtag #ToHelpMyAnxiety. This theme is so relevant to today, with as many as 60% of UK employees experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

Please summarise MSP Capital’s thinking and approach to mental health

As well as the usual support expected of us as an employer, I really feel that MSP Capital go above and beyond to support the team. As we continue to grow, the directors are keen to maintain the current culture of openness, friendship and support in the office. That’s part of my role as People Advisor, a mental health first aider and a member of the MSP Wellbeing Committee.

As an example of our holistic approach to mental wellbeing, we help educate the team on the power of good nutrition and looking after yourself as a way to help with mental wellbeing. We encourage all the team to use the free, on-site gym and organise regular instructor-led classes to relieve stress. Additionally, social activities outside of work are a common occurrence with Team MSP and enable the growing team to get to know each other better.

Can you say more about specific initiatives?

Yes, absolutely! This year, we have been looking at different ways to offer mental health assistance when staff need it most. We have decided to introduce an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) with a specialist support provider, Health Assured, as a proactive way of supporting our team for years to come. Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to begin rolling this out to the team.

The EAP will be available to all employees. It will give access to a confidential 24/7 helpline service, free of charge, which can help with mental or physical illness, financial struggles or legal issues. Whatever it is, there is a complete support network that can be accessed. It includes crisis assistance support, counselling sessions, manager consultancy and support with stress-related sickness. There is access to an online health and wellbeing portal and mobile app with an enhanced set of wellbeing tools and engaging features to support wellness. This is just an example of how proactive MSP want to be with mental wellbeing for our staff.

You mentioned that you’re a mental health first aider. Can you tell us more about this?

I’m one of four mental health first aiders at MSP. Each of us can be a point of contact if a member of staff or someone they are concerned about needs support. Although mental health first aiders are not therapists or psychiatrists, they can give some initial support and signpost the member of staff to the appropriate help if required. We have a wellbeing section on our staffroom notice board with further information and the first aider’s contact details, who will always be on hand to lend a listening ear. As of this year, we officially have the same number of mental health first aiders as we do physical health first aiders in the office.

MSP Capital has a wellbeing committee that helps with mental health. Can you say any more about this?

Yes, the committee was set up to champion staff wellbeing at the beginning of 2023. It aims to incorporate physical and mental health, resilience and fitness. We are looking at providing activities and resources throughout the year to help encourage a culture of health and wellness that helps our team take care of their mental as well as physical health.

So far this year we have provided staff with healthy smoothies and snacks for Nutrition and Hydration Week and added healthy recipe cookbooks to our staffroom library. All our office suites have a weekly fresh fruit delivery. To celebrate ‘Move Your Feet Britain’ we introduced a walking pad and height-adjustable desk in one of our meeting rooms. That has been a big hit! For Stress Awareness Month in April, staff were treated to an onsite chair massage, and we will be organising a staff meditation class for World Meditation Day on 21 May. We also run monthly peer-to-peer wellbeing and unsung hero awards.

Does MSP Capital do anything to help mental health awareness in the wider community?

Yes, we support Dorset Mind, a local charity that has been supporting people with mental health challenges since 1946. Last June we contributed towards a local running enthusiast and AFC Bournemouth employee on their challenge of running ten marathons in ten days on coastal paths from Cornwall to Bournemouth. We contributed to his fund where he raised more than £1,500. We are looking at arranging another charity event later this year to help Dorset Mind.

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