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​​​​Mental Health Champion Network

Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing 

 

The University is committed to placing health and wellbeing at the heart of the experience of working at the University and to ensure that all members of staff are able to work in a supportive, health-promoting and caring environment, where they are valued and respected.    


The university provides varied support and tools for colleagues experiencing mental health issues and this information is detailed on the staff intranet. There is also support and information dedicated towards Line Managers to help them provide support to their staff. 

The university is also keen to remove the stigma of mental ill health and offer support to Line Managers and staff to seek help and in some cases, notify HR of sickness absence attributed to mental health and wellbeing. This is to ensure that staff receive the proper support to help them recover and return to or continue to attend the workplace feeling confident. 

 

Who can become a Mental Health Champion? 

Colleagues who have completed the 12 hour Scotland’s’ Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) course and received the completion certificate can volunteer to become a Champion. Those who have completed the course are asked if they wish to become a volunteer and have their names and details added to the Campus Champion list. 

See appendix for details of what is Mental Health First Aid and details of Scotland’s’ Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) course. 

 

What is a Mental Health Champion? 

 

Mental Health Champions are a point of contact for an employee who is experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress, helping the person get appropriate help, and also provide early intervention for someone who may be developing a mental health issue. A Mental Health Champion is not expected to act as a counsellor or share their own experiences. 


A Mental Health Champion also takes action to raise awareness of mental health problems amongst staff, challenges mental health stigma, and provides peer support to colleagues.  

 

Why do we need Champions? 

 

We all have mental health just as we have physical health and some people may experience problems, some may be minor and temporary while some may be serious and all consuming. Mental health problems are very common with 1 in 4 people experiencing poor mental health in any year, meaning that most people are likely to know someone who has personal experience of mental health problems within their family, friend or work circles. 


At Edinburgh Napier, almost 36% of absences from work are caused my mental health problems which includes workplace stress. The university is committed to reducing the number of mental health problems caused by the workplace and while it cannot stop mental health caused by personal circumstances, the university is keen to support staff who are experiencing issues. 


Most people know very little about mental health and unfortunately, stigma is still an issue. Many people say they have not told colleagues about their mental health problems due to a fear they would be treated differently or thought less of and therefore do not seek the appropriate help. 

What do Champions do? 

 

A Mental Health Champion can be supportive in a number of ways: 


  • Follow the SMHFA steps (ALGEE) if a person is in immediate crisis or life threatening situation 

  • Understand and recognise the signs of mental health problems/conditions 

  • If you see a colleague in (non-life threatening) distress, provide comfort to understand the situation 

  • Signpost the person to the university support tools such as access to support and counselling from Workplace Options. Also highlight external support tools. 

  • Provide a listening ear (sometimes that is all people want and need) 

  • Raise awareness of mental health and make it part of normal conversation to help tackle stigma  

 

How does the Network operate? 

The university promotes the Mental Health Champion Network through a number of channels; 

  • Mental Health Champion Network list is on the staff intranet divided into Campus support 

  • Mental Health Champion’s will promote they are Champion by having the following signature on their email; I’m a Mental Health First Aider. You’re welcome to talk to me about anything. 

  • During induction, staff will be informed about the mental health & wellbeing support available and this will include the Mental Health Champion Network 


If a colleague approaches a Mental Health Champion for support the Mental Health Champion should offer to meet them/speak with them in the most comfortable (workplace) environment for the colleague within core working hours. See Protocol/Guidelines below for more information. 

 

 

Protocol/Guidelines 

We know that your day-to-day role might be demanding and time can be limited and we do not wish for you to offer more than you can give. Being a Champion is a flexible and voluntary commitment and you only need to do what you feel comfortable doing and have time for. The Scotland’s’ Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) course gives you a good understanding of mental health but it is key to remember that you are not expected to be an expert on mental health or have in depth knowledge of every different mental health condition.  Your role as a Champion is to offer a listening ear and signpost accordingly or seek support yourself to deal with a situation. 

There are a number of protocols and guidelines to consider to hopefully help you feel comfortable in your role of Mental Health Champion; 


Time commitment 

 

If a colleague approaches you to ask for a conversation then set some boundaries; 

  • Limit the conversation to 30 minutes 

  • Meet on campus, it can be in a private room (preferred) but never meet off campus (during COVID campus restrictions, these conversations should be conducted virtually)  

  • If they wish a second conversation, limit this conversation to 30 minutes 

  • It is not recommended to have more than 2 conversations. It is important the colleague is signposted to the relevant place to get ongoing support. Do not offer to meet on a regular basis as the colleague can become reliant on you and expect unrealistic/unfair expectations of you 

On occasion Champions may experience peaks with workload or there are certain times in the year when Champion are very busy. The Champion may feel they cannot commit to meeting a colleague who has contacted them for support straight away. If the colleague contacts you through email/phone and you feel you cannot meet them straight away then reply using this or similar wording; 

Thank you for making contact and I am pleased you feel comfortable using the Champions Network. I am very happy to meet you and can do so in xx days. If you would like to speak to a Mental Health Champion sooner I can contact one of my fellow Champions on your behalf and they can meet with you. If you wish to speak with me in particular I can meet you in xx days and in the meantime I suggest you look at our health & wellbeing resources   

If the Champion cannot meet for a few days and the colleague takes up the offer to speak with another Champion, please make contact with another Champion on the list and ask if they can meet the colleague. Make the link for both to speak. 

Do not leave it more than 5 days to meet the colleague. 

 

Signposting 

Please make yourself familiar with the Health & Wellbeing page on the staff intranet as this gives you information on where to signpost for internal and external support/advice. This advice includes resources such as Togetherall (free access to a 24/7 online community and professional support from trained professionals) and SilverCloud (secure immediate access to online programs tailored to individual needs supporting sleep, stress, anxiety etc). 

Confidentiality 

Colleagues approaching a Mental Health Champion should be confident that the conversation is confidential. However, if the Champion has a serious concern for the colleague’s safety and wellbeing then the Champion can seek advice from HR (see below). 

When the Champion meets a colleague for the first time, the Champion could use the following phrase at the start of the conversation to set boundaries and expectations on confidentiality this conversation will be confidential, however, if you tell me something that concerns me as a risk to yourself or others, then I may need to speak to HR to gain advice. I will do this only out of concern for your health and wellbeing”. 

It is worth reiterating that any conversation you have with HR will be confidential. 

Seeking support from HR 

If a colleague tells you something that gives you concern for their or somebody else’s well-being (e.g a child) health and wellbeing, it is suggested you seek advice from the HR Business Partner for the area where the colleague is from. The colleague already be known to the HR Partner and the HR Partner will offer you advice or manage the situation. 

The list of HR Partners are listed below. 

Immediate concern for a colleagues safety 

The Scotland’s’ Mental Health First Aid (SMHFA) course gives you advice on what to do if you have an immediate concern about the safety of a colleague. If you think the colleague is saying things or acting in a manner that indicates that they are (for example);  

  • are risk of suicide  

  • are acting incoherent   

  • disclosing substantial risk to someone else (e.g a child)  

then it is suggested you offer the following resources; Edinburgh Crisis Centre (please note, only available to residents of Edinburgh) and the Samaritans 

If you judge the situation to be extremely concerning, then offer to go with the colleague to A&E to seek immediate support. 

If this situation occurs please notify Kerry Dewar as the Universities Senior Safeguarding Officer for serious situations. 

Speaking about own experience 

You do not need to have lived experience of a mental health problem in order to become a Champion. However, if you do have lived experience and decide that you would like to become a Champion, it is completely up to you whether you choose to share your story as part of becoming active in tackling stigma. The impact of hearing a peer speak about their own experience of mental health is a powerful way to tackle mental health stigma. However, there is also the real risk that boundaries of the situation changes, the other person does not feel heard etc. It can take a lot of experience to measure how much of self to disclose so initially it may not be something you wish to do until you have built up experience. 

 

Understand HR Support Policies 

It is worth taking time to read over the various university policies (for Managers and Employees) on Managing Stress, Occupational Health, Stress Risk Assessment etc as these can offer value advice to colleagues who may not be aware of the policies and support available. There are also useful guides on Alcohol and Substance Misuse, Menopause etc 

Looking after your own mental health 

We hope that being a Mental Health Champion is enjoyable and rewarding for you, but as with any voluntary activity it can sometimes start to take over your timeAlso, if you choose to talk about your own experience, this can be draining and emotional. It is very important to administer self-care. Please think carefully about how you will look after your own wellbeing while you offer your ‘services’ as a Champion and encourage you to make sure you have appropriate support in place. This can be in the form of the other Mental Health Champion offering each other peer support. 

 

Page Break 

 

Mental Health Champion Campus List 

 

Sighthill Campus 

Name 

School/Professional Services area 

Phone number 

Email 

Claire Biggar 

Principal’s Office 

6401 

Dr Georgios Andronikos 

School of Applied Sciences 

 

X 3427 

Graham Short 

Principal’s Office 

X 6277 

Sadie Kemp 

School Applied Sciences 

 

Josephine Brown 

School Applied Sciences 

 

Mel Kinchant 

Academic Skills  

X 2261 

Dr Amanda Pitkethly 

School Applied Sciences 

X 3201 

Liz Young 

Health & Safety Team 

6373 

Lori Marian-Bowker 

Property & Facilities 

X 6119 

 

Craiglockhart Campus 

Name 

School/Professional Services area 

Phone number 

Email 

Tori Spratt 

 

The Business School 

4440 

 

 

 

 

 

Merchiston Campus 

Name 

School/Professional Services area 

Phone number 

Email 

Dr Suha Jaradat 

School of Engineering & the Built Environment  

 

X 2489 

Lesley McRobb 

Information Services 

X 2588 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bainfield Student Accommodation 

Name 

School/Professional Services area 

Phone number 

Email 

Lee Mangan 

 

Property & Facilities 

 

3713 

Brydon Connolly 

 

Property & Facilities 

 

X 3497 

Fiona Anderson 

Property & Facilities 

 

2631 

 

Appendix 

What is Mental Health First Aid? 

Mental Health First Aid, like any other type of first aid, is the help given to a person before appropriate professional help or treatment can be obtained. 

First aid of any type has the following aims; 

  1. To preserve life 

  1. To prevent deterioration of any injury or illness 

  1. To provide healing 

  1. To provide comfort to the person who is ill, injured or distressed 


Mental health first aid is the help given to someone experiencing a mental health problem before other help can be accessed. 


The aims of Mental Health First Aid are; 

  1. To preserve life 

  1. To provide help to prevent the mental health problem or crisis developing into a more serious state 

  1. To promote the recovery of good mental health 

  1. To provide comfort to a person experiencing distress 

  1. To promote understanding of mental health issues 


SMHFA does not teach people to the therapists. However, it does train people in; 

  • How to ask about suicide 

  • How to recognise the signs of mental health problems or distress 

  • How to provide initial help 

  • How to guide a person towards appropriate professional help 

 

 

 ​

HR Business Partner List 

School/Prof Service Area 

 HR Partner 

  • Human Resources 

  • International Operations and Student Recruitment 

  • Marketing and External Relations 

  • School Support Service 

  • Student Futures 

  • Student Wellbeing and Inclusion 

 

Senior HR Partner – Janette Stone  

X3477 

 

  • Finance 

  • Information Services 

  • Property & Facilities 

  • Planning 

  • Governance 

  • Equate Scotland 

  • Widening Participation 

  • Principals Office 

 

HR Partner - Louisa Fraser  

X2832​​ 

 

  • School of Applied Sciences 
    Business School 

  • School of Arts and Creative Industries  

  • Department of Learning & Teaching Enhancement​ 

  • Equate Scotland 

 

HR Partner - Lucy Napier  

  • School of Health & Social Care 

  • School of Engineering & the Built Environment 

  • School of Computing 

  • Research, Innovation and Enterprise 

  • CSIC 

 

Head of HR Operations - Paddy Bennett P.Bennett@napier.ac.uk 

X 3394​