Case Study| Perth
Water Corporation Mental Health Champions Program
It was seen to be a comprehensive, sustainable program within our workforce that has a place to ensure that we are truly trying to support our colleagues in mental health and wellbeing.
~ Tony Dennis, Head of Safety & Wellbeing Water Corporation

How we worked with Water Corporation

Tony Dennis is the Head of Safety and Wellbeing at Water Corporation in Perth, Western Australia. Water Corporation were looking for a program that would allow them to create a positive environment of mental health and wellbeing, where training, resources and peer-to-peer support was available. The end result was the Mental Health Champions program, which has resulted in a more open culture around mental health and wellbeing, where employees feel supported at work.  Recent EES (Employee Engagement Scores) indicates 95% of their employees absolutely agree that in the Water Corporation there was a great awareness to mental health and wellbeing, which they largely attributed to this program.

The Champions Program is something that we were really keen to understand. How do we engage our workforce? How do we have people that are able to support other colleagues? How do we get our peer-to-peer support? You know, EAP gets us so far, but how do we actually create an environment where we have got people that have got training, some base knowledge, and that also are our colleagues in our organisation, so actually we can provide more training, more support, to be able to give that peer-to-peer support for our colleagues within the workplace.

And we thought about a lot of things. And the most important thing for us was to make sure that whatever we did, it wasn’t seen to be tokenism. It was seen to be a comprehensive, sustainable program within our workforce that has a place to ensure that we are truly trying to support our colleagues in mental health and wellbeing.

And this program that we identified with Blooming Minds was the program that we felt gave us the best opportunity to achieve our objective on that.

First and foremost, I don’t know how Tash fits all of this in. But certainly, the support that we get through this program, the one-on-one aspect of support of each champion, being able to have access to staff at Blooming Minds, has been really great because I think as a mental health Champion, you know, you’re newly trained, you newly sort of got all these skills, you want to be able to use them, but also use them in a meaningful way.

And having that constant support, accessory master classes through one-on-ones, that really gives our Champions the confidence and the support, ongoing from the training, that they need to be able to be successful.

Phenomenal, actually. I think, if we look at how would we judge, or how would we understand how this program has moved us now? I think it’s something now that people really talk about a lot. So, if we talk about anything, or ask people what do we see that’s been positive in the last few years, always this program is the first thing on their lips about how they feel that the organisation has really, in a meaningful way, stepped into mental health and wellbeing and how to manage some of those issues. And this program has provided that. It’s also provided a platform for where people feel comfortable to actually have conversations about mental health and wellbeing.

It’s not a taboo subject that we can’t bring forward anymore. It’s actually something that people will wilfully bring forward and have the discussion and get the support maybe that they need, but also raising that awareness. And we’ve gone from an organisation that probably, you know, we’ve prided ourselves on having that awareness in our organisation, but our recent EES (Employee Engagement Scores) suggest that 95% of our people absolutely agree that in the Water Corporation there was a great awareness to mental health and wellbeing, which is a fantastic result and really largely attributed to this program, being able to raise that awareness through the Champions that we have across the workforce.

I think the process that we go through to get people to put their hand up, we put out an expression of interest to engage those people that would be really keen to apply. And the first year was really challenging because we had a hundred spots that we were first putting up and we had 220 applications, so there was 120 people we had to let down. More people than we could actually take on, which was a difficult, but also a really, welcome sort of conundrum that we had to work through. But I think that that showed us the depth of desire that there was for the organisation, for us, to be able to put something like this program in place.

And I think that’s been supported by the following years. And I think that, you know, the program has really grown, with us. And I think those Champions feel really confident that the organisation is moving in the right direction and really sort of taking on some of the mental health challenges that we have across our workforce.

I would recommend this program to any kind of organisation to ensure that you have got people within your organisation that do have a better understanding and a more in depth understanding of just how to provide support to employees that may need it. But also guide them into areas where there is further support to be able to ensure that early intervention.

I think is something that we really need to focus on, because we know that if we can get that support early, there is always likely to be a better outcome in the end. But I think for us as an organisation it works to have this program in place, for large aspects of our organisation.

But I think any organisation needs to have thoughts about how do they manage mental health and wellbeing in their workplace in a program like this.

Peer-to-peer support is something that can really add value to any organisation.

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