Supporting the mental health of staff is "vital" and counselling forms an important part of helping workers, according to the CEO of healthcare at Sodexo UK & Ireland.
Stuart Winters has said being shown to encourage mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, especially for those on the frontline who can face extreme challenges every day, was important.
Sodexo offers counselling to frontline teams. Winters says it has helped staff such as Craig who is a security officer at Royal Stoke hospital. Winters said that Craig being able to access the counselling service at the suggestion of his supervisor had been a significant help to caring for his mental wellbeing.
Knowing that someone like Craig had been helped "means the world to me," said Winters, adding that it "sums up the role we are playing to support our frontline people".
Winters said that "knowing that the service has benefitted Craig and so many people like him, makes me extremely proud".
He says that the Covid-19 pandemic has "impacted us all" and "the way we live and work has transformed in a way none of us could have imagined".
In June last year in order to protect Sodexo's frontline teams from the additional pressure and stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the firm launched a new face-to-face counselling service. The service was designed to reduce the impact on the psychological and emotional health of its teams.
Winters says it has been almost a year since the organisation introduced face-to-face counselling. To date, over 1,300 individual sessions and 154 group sessions which have focused on mental health-related topics have been delivered to 420 colleagues.
He adds: "Over the last year we have extended the service to our teams working at 31 Nuffield Health locations and for the teams at 200 Covid-19 testing centre locations.
"The benefit and impact of counselling can be life changing – both for individuals and their families – and can also help to reduce pressure for increasingly in-demand and stretched health and social care services. It provides invaluable support with existing mental health conditions, as well as helping to detect any problems early – helping to prevent a mental health problem from occurring in the first place."
Tracy Bullock, chief executive of University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust said: “What greater thing can we do for the wellbeing of staff? I am wholly supportive of the service. For staff on the frontline to be able to speak to someone who is trained who can listen to them and support them is a phenomenal success.”
By partnering with experienced counsellors and psychotherapists to deliver training in addition to the core counselling service, Sodexo says they are equipping teams with "valuable knowledge that can benefit them in their careers and their personal lives and helping to creating positive social impact and healthier, more resilient community".