How Wates transformed their approach to wellbeing by supporting their Mental Health First Aiders


Wrote this on, June 3, 2024

With some incredible achievements in the construction industry, we sat down with Kelly Osborne, Head of Health & Wellbeing at Wates Group, to talk about their wellbeing approach, particularly to mental health first aid and the partnership with us at Everymind at Work so far.  

  The key numbers:

  • Supporting 250+ Mental Health First Aiders across the organisation
  • Achieved a score of 50 (Outstanding) in CCS, identifies innovations in their projects.
  • More than 4,000 employees enrolled in resilience training.
The best thing about our partnership is knowing I can put my complete trust in Everymind. Whether it’s large-scale manager training, Champion workshops, or a calendar of wellbeing events, I know it’s delivered in a way that people respond to and truly engage with

– Kelly Osborne, Head of Health & Wellbeing

Where the story began…

Wates is a family-owned business with a rich history spanning over 125 years – with a workforce of roughly 4,000 employees who place a strong emphasis on the value of care.

It was clear from early on that Wates recognised the importance of providing wellbeing support to their team and they understood the challenges their Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) network faced in their role. Not only this, but the construction industry experiences higher levels of mental health disorders and increased suicide risk. This was a key concern for the organisation who wanted to adopt a preventative approach and protect as many individuals as possible.

As Head of Health & Wellbeing, this was firmly on the mind of Kelly Osborne who was concerned about the wellbeing of her MHFA network. She knew the impact that ongoing difficult conversations can have. When looking for a solution, Kelly connected with our engaging and preventative approach to wellbeing as well as, our support designed for Mental Health First Aiders.

Kelly shares “it all began way back with the Everymind app and taking on a large-scale resilience training program for over 4,000 of our colleagues. Three years on, we’ve completely transformed our approach to wellbeing and haven’t looked back.”

We now support more than 250 Mental Health First Aiders at Wates through the Everymind platform, which provides on-demand support for the network, ensuring they have the necessary guidance and reassurance following a mental health conversation (or ahead of one). Not only this, but the platform provides regular development sessions, ensuring MHFAs are continuously upskilled and given the confidence to continue supporting their peers.

Not only this, the platform has allowed Kelly and the organisation to gain oversight into the type of conversations being had and the topics that affect their employees. This data not only informs their wellbeing strategy but it gives them complete visibility of the effectiveness of their MHFA network, providing clarity on their impact and engagement. Kelly highlights:

“The Everymind platform helps me access more wellbeing data around the nature of mental health conversations happening, allowing me to strategically plan ahead with more insight and knowledge.”

Kerry Barkworth, Senior SHE Advisor at Wates also commented on how the partnership has provided powerful insight from a Health & Safety perspective, internally and externally. In the context of industry standards such as ISO, CCS, and BREEAM Kerry explains:

Having the MHFA support and partnership with Everymind is the difference between a score of 45 (Excellent) or 50 (Outstanding) in CCS which identifies innovations in our projects. Mental Health Innovations can transform mental health in our workplace through the power of human connection and the Everymind partnership absolutely does this.

The training of MHFAiders within Wates was simply the first step, providing the MHFA support platform has been instrumental in creating a supportive work environment across all their sites – proving an invaluable resource in shaping a mentally healthy work environment. Kerry described the conversation logging feature on our platform to be very easy to use and essential in helping have full oversight of the network, particularly the reporting on location-specific data which really helps with the various on-site locations their employees work in.

Continuing on, Kelly emphasised “we’ve seen a real improvement in absences and the recording of those absences in a truthful way” This shift has led to a better understanding of the mental health landscape within the organisation, enabling targeted interventions and support systems. This is an indication of how with our support and Wates’ dedication to wellbeing, we have reduced the stigma of mental health from junior staff members to senior executives across the business.

“Everymind’s support, alongside the MHFAiders at Wates, really helped me get back to work. Without them, I don’t think I would still be working here.”

– Christopher Morris, Technical Service Manager at Wates Group

With countless testimonials like this across the workforce, the impact we’ve driven through our partnership is truly showcased by the improvement of the overall mental health and wellbeing of Wates’ workforce, taking proactive and preventative measures to create a better workplace for all.

Key challenges

Supporting the wellbeing of the MHFA Network

  • Challenge: Recognising the toll that difficult conversations can take on MHFAiders.

  • Outcome: We provided bespoke support designed for MHFAiders, ensuring they had the necessary resources, training and ongoing clinical support to effectively support their colleagues without compromising their own wellbeing.

Network effectiveness and impact

  • Challenge: Wates were looking for a solution to gain insights into mental health conversations happening within the organisation and to have complete oversight of their MHFA network.

  • Outcome: The Everymind platform allowed Kelly to access more wellbeing data around the nature of mental health conversations, enabling strategic planning with enhanced insight and knowledge.

Meeting industry standards (and going beyond)

  • Challenge: They aimed to enhance their scores and positioning regarding their alignment with industry standards.
  • Outcome: The MHFA support platform allowed Wates to improve their CCS score by 5 points with the implementation of the Everymind platform; demonstrating innovation and commitment to mental health support aligned with industry standards.

Boosting engagement of MHFAs

  • Challenge: Wates Group wanted to make sure the network were engaged and supported in their role.
  • Outcome: The Everymind at Work approach is designed in a way that drives engagement across your network. We know that wellbeing initiatives fall flat without the right approach.

Through these solutions, Wates successfully addressed their key challenges, leading to improved mental health and wellbeing across their workforce. The partnership between Everymind and Wates is a real example of proactive and preventative measures in creating a better workplace for all.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Wates is prioritising mental health support and staying ahead in the industry, we recommend watching our video case study here.

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