My Department fully recognises the need to support staff and promote positive mental health. It has been very active in the provision of training and supports in this area in recent years with a very positive response from staff.
In conjunction with Mental Health Ireland and the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service, mental health awareness workshops have been held in a variety of locations. Since 2014, 250 staff have attended these workshops, which include presentations, discussions, case studies and group activities. The workshops provided tools and strategies to enhance mental health and well-being, increase awareness and understanding and promote the range of formal and informal supports and resources available.
In response to identified needs, stress awareness training was also delivered with the aim of giving staff confidence and control in managing stress and increasing coping strategies. The training is provided on request, with over 1,100 staff participating since 2014.
With assistance from the National Office for Suicide Prevention, my Department also provides SafeTALK training to staff. This programme helps prepare participants to identify people with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first aid resources. Over the past three years, 640 staff have participated in this programme.
The National Office for Suicide Prevention also provides access to staff from my Department to the more advanced applied suicide intervention skills training, ASIST, workshop conducted by the HSE. Thus far, 150 staff have attended this two-day programme, which trains participants to reduce the immediate risk of suicide and increase the support for a person at risk.
My Department also continues to promote awareness among staff by publicising dedicated awareness days such as World Suicide Prevention Day and World Mental Health Day.