Increased support in Mental Health Awareness Week

Security specialist GMS Group is offering its 500 staff extra support to tackle the “hidden” challenges around mental health following the Covid-19 pandemic, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

From left Monica Shafaq, CEO of Kaleidoscope Plus Group, Simon Williams, GMS national contracts manager and Rachel Freeman, GMS HR director. Both Simon and Rachel are mental health first aiders
From left Monica Shafaq, CEO of Kaleidoscope Plus Group, Simon Williams, GMS national contracts manager and Rachel Freeman, GMS HR director. Both Simon and Rachel are mental health first aiders

While security work has a traditionally “macho” image, based on authority and physical strength, Black Country-based GMS aim to raise awareness to help prevent staff reaching crisis before they seek help with mental health challenges.

Working with West Bromwich-based charity Kaleidoscope Plus Group, one of the good causes which GMS supports with fundraising, the company will be providing staff with tips and advice as well as giving colleagues information on the help available. GMS head office staff have also planned a MHAW fundraising drive to raise funds for Kaleidoscope.

GMS recognises that security staff mental health can be impacted by the scenarios where they operate: night shifts, pressured working situations, anti-social hours and extended periods of isolation. The management are helping staff overcome dated preconceptions of security employees projecting “invincible” images to access mental health support over stress, relationship issues, finance, family well-being or the impact of the pandemic.

For Mental Health Awareness Week information will be placed around the sites where GMS staff operate. Supervisors will be invited to take part in workshops to help them manage staff and those who have “buddy” roles, where designated staff have been trained to offer help, will be checking in with colleagues to offer support on mental health.

GMS, which recently moved its headquarters to Oakham Road, Tividale, is using the annual awareness week to build upon its previous work supporting staff on mental health. GMS already offer a stress counselling service to employees and have trained mental health first aiders in the business. The firm delivers practical security solutions for leading brands such as Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, CEMEX UK, Kerry Foods and KPMG.

Neil Male, chief executive of GMS Group and a passionate supporter of mental health prevention work, is a board trustee of Kaleidoscope Plus Group. He said the management of GMS recognised the need to help employees ask for help with mental health challenges.

Neil said: “With more than 90 per cent of GMS staff being male, as well as employing colleagues working in situations which can be intense and require risk management, we are aware of the national mental health situation and want to ensure our team to be supported.

“We do not want colleagues to reach a crisis point before the issues need resolving and want every member of staff to feel they can engage with the support which can help them, whatever they are facing. The annual Mental Health Awareness Week is a welcome opportunity to build upon the efforts we make throughout the year to support colleagues.

“Everyone has a part to play in improving the mental health situation so we are taking on the challenge of offering additional activity after the tough year the nation has faced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Organised by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week runs to May 16. The campaign promotes prevention, supporting people before issues emerge or as they experience problems. Research by the Mental Health Foundation has shown the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact.

The theme for this year’s awareness week is “Nature”. With a new HQ attached to a riding school, GMS has a long-term plan to run support activities, putting out the message that it is “OK not to be OK” and promoting better mental health in security work.

Kaleidoscope Plus Group chief executive Monica Shafaq welcomed the opportunity to work with GMS to build on their relationship to promote mental health support. She said: “It is important that as many people as possible understand that no matter the difficulties they face, they can access understanding and support to help them. We are committed to making sure services and support of the highest quality are accessible to everybody who needs them.

“Working with GMS and their staff in these practical ways meets our mission of ensuring support is diverse and relevant, giving us a platform for addressing the challenges faced.”

To tie in with the MHAW theme of nature, the GMS head office staff plan to walk, run and cycle the equivalent distance of the journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats (874 miles/1,407km) in May, with funds raised going to Kaleidoscope Plus Group. Beginning on May 10 to tie in with MHAW, the GMS HQ staff will be taking photos of nature as they participate.

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