For Responsible Business Week 2019, Action Mental Health would like to shine a light and say a massive thank you to Corporate Partner Danske Bank who have just entered into their third and final year with the local charity. Danske Bank highlights the pinnacle of what the week stands for. Building a better and healthier workforce, helping to sustain our local economy and fostering healthier communities all across Northern Ireland.
Partnering with Action Mental Health in January 2017, Danske Bank dedicated themselves to not only highlighting positive mental health amongst their own staff, but also raising funds to support vital work across the country in promoting positive emotional health and well-being for now and for generations to come.
One in five of us in Northern Ireland will experience a mental health issue in our lifetime. This equates to 1 in 5, that we know of. Sadly, many still do not receive the support that they need and more shockingly, half of all mental issues begin before the age of 14. A staggering 10% of 5-16 year olds in Northern Ireland have a diagnosable mental health problem and Danske Bank have put themselves at the forefront of addressing this problem so we can nurture a healthier youth. With Action Mental Health’s early intervention resilience and emotional well-being programmes, we hope to tackle issues head on before they begin.
With these school’s programmes not receiving any government funding and with the charity providing the programmes free of charge to schools, Action Mental Health rely solely on the generosity of local businesses, associations, community groups and individuals to continue with their vital work. The charity currently has a 6 month waiting list for their school’s programmes which shows just how high the demand is within our schools for help and support for their students. Danske Bank have played a critical role in helping to ensure Action Mental Health continue to be there to support and help our young people develop healthy coping mechanisms for the struggles daily life throws their way when they need it most.
In particular, Danske Bank have been strong advocates and supporters for the ‘Healthy Me’ programme aimed at 8-11 year olds in primary school settings. This programme helps young people to identify their vast range of emotions and ensure they know who their key points of contact are should they feel they need help and support. In their first 2 years of the partnership alone, Danske employees have raised a staggering £130,000 allowing Action Mental Health to reach a further 13,000 young people across Northern Ireland. From abseils, picnics, dragon boat races and marathons to name but a few, these incredible employees know no bounds in offering their support and everyone can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.
In addition to all the employees incredible work around the ‘Healthy Me’ programme, they are also keen volunteers in assisting Action Mental Health with their adult recovery programme, ‘New Horizons’ and also helping them keep their buildings up to code and fit for purpose for the attending clients. The ‘New Horizons’ programme focuses on local adult’s journey to positive mental health by offering a range of recognised qualifications, training, personal development programmes and social and recreational activities with the aim of aiding clients progress towards further education or employment.
Over the last 2 years, Danske staff have been active supporters in providing CV skills, interview skills and customer service skills coaching alongside courses such as fraud awareness and money management, all of which have been invaluable for Action Mental Health’s clients. Just recently, staff have delivered training in the Newtownards service, Antrim and Downpatrick, with more training upcoming for Craigavon. These service locations have also benefited from some TLC from enthusiastic volunteers helping with painting and gardening. Action Mental Health’s service locations have slowly been spreading across Northern Ireland from 1963 and many are tucked away in industrial estates as they were established at a time when mental health was seen as an issue better out of sight and out of mind. The care the team have been pouring into the buildings really has helped give them a new lease of live and created a warm, welcoming and safe environment for clients.
Not forgetting, Danske Bank also go to extraordinary lengths to support the mental health and well-being of their own staff encouraging the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’* – connecting, being active, taking notice, learning and giving. Staff from across several Danske sites took park in several parkrun’s at the end of March 2019. While they did very generously raise funds for Action Mental Health for this, the main focus was on them getting out, taking in some fresh air, exercising and connecting with their colleagues while doing so and it was lovely to see. Physical well-being has direct links to our mental well-being and the team at Action Mental Health were thrilled to see the team taking time out of their own busy schedules to spend some important time reflecting on their own health, both physical and mental.
Danske Bank staff celebrating with Oakfield Primary School, Carrickfergus in January 2019 following raising an incredible £130,000 at the end of their 2nd year in partnership with Action Mental Health
With Mental Health Awareness Week fast approaching (13th – 19th May 2019), the Danske team are once again going to be shining a light on employee mental health and well-being. On Tuesday 14th May, the Business Development Team will be taking on a 500 mile walking challenge involving circling parts of some of their different sites. Connecting with colleagues, being active, taking notice of their surroundings (and hopefully the nice weather!), learning about their colleagues and more about Mental Health Awareness Week and also giving their time and energy to such a great cause that affects so many of us in Northern Ireland – either through personal experience or through the experiences of friends and family.
Danske Bank could not be more highly commended and recognised for their dedication in tackling mental health within Northern Ireland. Their commitment to their employees, to our young people and to communities right across Northern Ireland is not just recognised by Action Mental Health, but from other professionals across the country as shown by being short listed for no less than four awards in the Business in the Community ‘Responsible Business Awards 2019’ – Responsible Digital Innovation, Wellbeing at Work, Diversity & Inclusion and NI Responsible Company of the Year.
Alex Murdock, Fundraising & Engagement Coordinator at Action Mental Health had this to say:
“I cannot think of a more deserving company and staff to receive these awards and wish Danske Bank the best of luck for the upcoming awards ceremony in May. Their incredible support of Action Mental Health over the last two years has completely blown me away and I am thoroughly looking forward to helping them create a lasting legacy surrounding positive mental health for both their employees and Northern Ireland as a whole throughout 2019. On behalf of everyone at Action Mental Health, thank you for embracing our journey to create a society which actively values and supports people on their journey towards positive mental health, thank you for stepping up and sharing the responsibility for creating a healthier community and thank you for helping us create a better today and a better tomorrow. We honestly could not do it without you.”
*The Five Ways to Wellbeing was developed by New Economics Foundation. It is a set of evidence-based actions designed to improve personal wellbeing.