Catherine and MHScot

Catherine lives in Scotland and spent her early career working and volunteering within the 3rd sector. She saw first-hand the challenges people can face with their mental health and how ill equipped some employers are to support and enable their employees.

Catherine also had personal experience of poor mental health and was personally aware of the struggles people and their employees face. She could see an opportunity to make a difference.

Knowing the struggle of seeking employment after having lived experience of poor mental wellbeing and then hearing so many other employee’s stories about their struggles in the workplace I knew there was a huge problem that needed addressed

Catherine and MHScot

Catherine decided to set up a new enterprise to tackle these issues. She could see how a social enterprise could offer employment and work opportunities to people with experience of poor mental health, herself included, so decided to structure her new enterprise in this way. The social enterprise which Catherine founded is called MHScot Workplace Wellbeing. The organisation is also a Social Firm.

MHScot operates across Scotland and works with businesses and enterprises within the private, third and public sectors. Most of their activity has a focus on training and education and they design and deliver training programmes and workshops for teams of staff. They also offer consultancy for employers to help them create a healthy workplace that is able to support the wellbeing of its people. They help organisations review their policies and operating practices and to make changes as needed. They undertake staff surveys and audits in order to help employers learn from the experiences of their staff.

We help individuals and businesses face the problems created by mental health issues and attempt to change the way these issues are perceived, understood and dealt with

The organisation has a small core team of employed staff combined with a wider group of Associates who do work for the organisation as and when required.

What helped?

Catherine gained a place on the School for Social Entrepreneurs development programme, a year-long programme offering learning opportunities, mentoring, connections to support and grant funding. This gave her the information and confidence she needed to develop MHScot. She also gained support and information from Social Firms Scotland and the Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network – where she continues to contribute.

Catherine gains invaluable support from the Access to Work programme – a Government funding stream which offers people the financial and practical help they need to work.

The way MHScot is structured helps Catherine and her colleagues. Catherine is clear that MHScot is a healthy workplace which offers people the work patterns they need to manage their mental health at the same time as working and contributing their considerable expertise and skills. People are offered part time work opportunities and/or work hours and conditions that fit with their life and health challenges. The organisation refuses to be drawn into deadlines and responses sometimes required by their customers.

Sometimes people say they want a response to their e mail by return. We challenge this and help them to see when they are creating stress that isn’t really necessary

Catherine gains personal and practical support from her Husband and this enables her to manage the work/home balance required to run MHScot.

Challenges

Catherine faces physical health challenges which can mean she tires easily and finds travel difficult. Catherine is regularly assessed for her entitlement to Access to Work funding – this is a real challenge as without this support she would be unable to run MHScot.

Achievements and impact

Catherine and MHScot have developed the ‘Workplace Mental Health First Aid Programme’. Alongside this they have developed a successful partnership with Apex Hotels – delivering the Mental Health First Aid Training to their staff and members of the public. They have trained over 1100 people on various mental health and wellbeing courses and workshops, having a huge impact on their knowledge, understanding and work practice. Employers and employees regularly feedback the positive impact of the training they have undertaken.

MHScot won ‘Best Employee Mental Health Support Service’ in the 2018 Scottish Enterprise Awards.

Catherine is clear how improvements in the workplace can have much wider impact on people, their family and community.

Problems in work resulting from mental health issues have financial, health, social and economic consequences for individuals and employers alike

The future

Catherine plans to consolidate the work of the organisation – to maintain its activity and impact without growing too much. She wants to help more people but to do this in a way that maintains the wellbeing of herself and her staff and Associates.