Mental health strategy wins Thames Water top award

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Mental health award

Thames Water’s work to support its employees with their mental health has been recognised with a major national award.

The company took top spot in the ‘Best Mental Health in the Workplace Strategy (large company)’ category at the inaugural ‘This Can Happen Awards’ in London on November 21. The awards celebrate and recognise companies and individuals who have shown excellence in their approach towards positive mental health for their employees and colleagues.

Seven other businesses including Lloyds Banking Group, Accenture and Companies House were shortlisted in the same category, but judges deemed Thames Water’s strategy to be the worthy winner.

Thames Water’s Time to Talk mental health strategy comprises several initiatives including two training courses based around a series of specially filmed virtual reality (VR) scenes. On both courses the VR elements enable the delegate to be in the shoes of someone suffering from severe depression and consider how they may have acted in similar situations.

Aimee Cain, occupational health and wellbeing manager at Thames Water, collected the award. She said: “In the last five years here at Thames we have seen a 78 per cent reduction in work-related illness. Discussion around mental health is growing across the business and this is helping to remove the stigma around mental health at work.

“We’re really pleased to have been given this award, which recognises the efforts of so many people within Thames Water, including our mental health first aiders who now record an average of 30 mental health contacts every month – five times the number of physical first aid contacts we see.”

Judges described Thames Water’s strategy as: “A strong entry which has shown good innovation with the use of things like virtual reality to get strong messages across to all levels of employees.”

Soon after the launch of the mental health strategy Thames Water saw an 18 per cent increase in take up of its employee assistance programme and since then 416 staff have joined an open mental health group. The company now has more than 1000 mental health first aiders.