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CalMac puts staff mental health on the agenda

(9 October 2020) A fleet of CalMac employees has been trained to support colleagues who may be struggling with mental health issues.

As part of the ferry company’s commitment to staff wellbeing, more than 60 workers recently qualified as mental health first aiders. Based across the network, they have been trained to spot the signs of mental distress and to be available for colleagues who need to talk about any concerns they may have.

The training, which takes two days and is accredited by NHS Scotland, is open to all members of staff. The mental health first aid programme is the result of a wellbeing project set up by CalMac and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT). This is in conjunction with mental health charity See Me and Scottish Union Learning, with funding from the Scottish Government.

CalMac is also encouraging employees to access a range of online learning resources from See Me as part of their overall health and safety training.

Tayloure Given, who works as a Customer Adviser for CalMac, volunteered to train as a mental health first aider because she wants to help people who are struggling with the stresses of maintaining a work/life balance.

She added: “On busy days, we can take up to 200 calls in the contact centre and over the course of the day, depending on the conversations, this can take its toll. I want my colleagues to be able to reach out to me if they need to talk to someone, or most importantly, just someone to listen.”

Callum Macleod, Second Steward, is also a mental health first aider for CalMac. He said: “CalMac has gone above and beyond with the work they have put into supporting mental health. We have all struggled with our mental health at some point in our lives and giving people the opportunity to talk about it is a good thing.”

Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac, said: “As employers, CalMac has a duty to care for and to protect the people who work for the organisation. My goal is that staff work in a safe environment in which they feel supported, and that they have the chance to talk about mental health if they need to.

“Mariners can be prone to anxiety or depression as they can be away from home for several days at a time, without the support of family and other loved ones. Knowing that there is help available and having colleagues who are trained to spot the signs can help.

“Training mental health first aiders is one way in which we can make it easier for people to speak about any concerns they have. At Calmac, we also have an Employee Assistance Programme, which offers free and confidential counselling, and access to a range of mental health awareness courses.

“We want to remove the stigma of talking about mental health and to spread the message that it is OK not to feel OK.”