DRCS helps Derbyshire Dales District Council bring wellbeing to top of staff agenda

DRCS is working with Derbyshire Dales District Council in a progressive move to address workplace wellbeing.

The charitable organisation, which provides counselling services including talking therapies across Derbyshire and the Peak District, provided a wellbeing, stress and resilience workshop to staff at the Matlock based council.

The session was part of the council’s first ever Health & Wellbeing Week for its 230 employees focussing on techniques and activities to improve its staff’s health and happiness.

Other activities included pilates, meditation, massage, walking, reflexology, craft workshops, stretching and singing.

As part of the initiative 14 staff have also been trained as mental health first aiders and champions through MHFA England to reinforce the message that the council cares about its employees and their wellbeing.

Deborah Unwin, Human Resources Manager at DDDC, said: Its important for employers to actively promote their responsibility towards the wellbeing of their staff – work is part of the picture and helping people to get the best work-life balance is crucial in preventing many mental illnesses from developing in the first place.

This is the first time we have organised such an event, which was both exciting and thought provoking and the response has been very positive – so we would like to make this an annual event.

We want to be confident that we have the skills set to look after our team, to recognise when people may need support and to work with partners like DRCS to provide that support.”

Janette Smeeton, chief executive at DRCS said: “Derbyshire Dale District Council is forward thinking. Not many organisations would offer these services to staff, which are now being seen as a major benefit by employees there.

Research has shown that as a considerate employer, if you engage with your staff on improving mental wellbeing and behavioural skills, it leads to improved communication and productivity. It makes total financial sense. Staff off sick costs money.”

Research shows that mental health issues cost the UK economy some £16 billion per annum – £3bn for therapists’ fees and £13bn for lost productivity, absenteeism and the use of other government services.

According to NHS England, one in four people in the UK will suffer mental health symptoms at some stage in their working lives. The CIPD states the average annual cost of absenteeism per UK employee is £760.

Derwent Rural Counselling Service (DRCS), which has a team of 70 freelance and employed staff, operates as a provider of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme service; Talking Mental Health Derbyshire (TMHD); alongside Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust and Relate.

It is the largest voluntary sector provider and has a 28-year track record of working with individuals suffering from common mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress and long term conditions. Members of the public can self-refer or be referred by their GP. DRCS also works with businesses and schools offering a range of services including therapy contracts, mental health training, wellbeing workshops and supervision.

DRCS now operates from bases in Belper, Bakewell, Derby, Chesterfield, Alfreton, Long Eaton and Matlock treating people from the Amber Valley, Erewash, Chesterfield, Buxton, Matlock, Ashbourne, Derby, Swadlincote and the Peak District. It also uses GP premises across the region.

Pic caption: (left to right) Working together – Chrissie Symons DDDC HR Officer, Lis Hudson, DDDC HR and Payroll Assistant, Kim Heappey, Clinical Supervisor, Senior Counsellor and Training

Co-ordinator at DRCS, Janette Smeeton, CEO at DRCS, Deborah Unwin, DDDC HR Manager and Susan Devaney, DDDC Payroll Manager.

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