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PVT recognises the importance of mental health in the workplace

A NORTH East training business is proving mental health is front of mind, after committing to...

A NORTH East training business is proving mental health is front of mind, after committing to deliver short courses that will help all 300 of its apprentices to spot and tackle issues early.

Sunderland-based Penshaw View – a training provider and health and safety business – is building Mental Health Awareness into all of its current and future apprenticeship courses, in a bid to support its trainees – many of them young people – to spot the signs of mental illness and manage their own wellbeing.

The move means that more than 300 people enrolled on training courses with the firm – which moved into The Beam in Riverside Sunderland at the end of last year – will have the option to take part in virtual training, which includes a number of assessments and reviews, to help them understand the impact of poor mental health, explore the early signs of illness and put in place intervention if they feel
they are beginning to experience issues.

Penshaw View is fully funding the cost of the programme, meaning there will be no fee for learners or their employers, and if they pass, at the end of the training, they will receive a nationally accredited certificate in Introduction to Mental Health Awareness from Highfield Qualifications.

Philippa Breckon, director at Penshaw View, said she hopes the additional training – which has been warmly welcomed by clients of the firm – will improve the mental and emotional resilience of its learner cohort, not only benefitting their own wellbeing, but ensuring they are well placed to support colleagues who may be suffering with poor mental health.

Philippa said: “With suicide rates at a national high, particularly in males, we are hopeful that this training will not only raise awareness, but also support learners to understand the concepts of mental health, identify signs of illness and take steps to self-manage their own wellbeing.

“We know that poor mental health can not only be hugely damaging to the individual experiencing it, but can have wide-ranging implications for employers, including high levels of absenteeism, poor staff retention and issues with morale and productivity. It makes good sense for employers to support their teams with training like this – something we are now offering as a training programme for businesses that want to deliver it – but until more do, we are committed to supporting our young people to grow their capacity to deal with any challenges.”

One of the firm’s clients, Utility Alliance, will see it’s 27 apprentices currently enrolled with Penshaw View take part in the additional mental health training.

Jo Storey, head of apprenticeships and academy manager at Utility Alliance – a Hartlepool-based commercial utility broker – said: “The presence of a mental health awareness course here at Utility Alliance is highly important to a large-scale business like ours.

“It is one of the most recognised issues that can pop up in employment and as we have a lot of apprentices at all three sites, it is important that we embrace this issue and keep raising awareness of it, to gain a good understanding of it and to also adapt and grow as a business, to support our evergrowing culture and to help anyone that is suffering from any form of mental health issue.

“Raising awareness of potential mental health issues in the workplace, with the help of Penshaw View and our internal processes, is a great part of fostering an inclusive workplace, where people feel able to bring their whole selves to work.”

As well as building the course into their apprenticeships, Penshaw View is working with employers to support them with standalone training to deliver more supportive workplaces nationwide.

Philippa added: “The stigma associated with mental health must stop, and it’s vital that employers and employees alike take responsibility for bringing about that change. That starts with awareness. We hope that by leading the way with this approach – training our apprentices up front – we create a wave of employees who join businesses with the understanding to ensure both they and their colleagues get the right support if they experience any issues with their mental wellbeing.” To find out more about Penshaw View, visit

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