A building society has recruited mental health first aiders (MHFAs) to encourage people to talk about the issue.

Coventry Building Society, which has branches in Stroud, Stonehouse, Nailsworth, Dursley, Berkeley, Thornbury, Chipping Sodbury, Tetbury and Cirencester has recruited 28 MHFAs from among its staff to help support colleagues with mental health issues.

They have attended a two–day course to learn how to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and provide help on a first aid basis.

Gemma Unwin, HR adviser said “Mental health affects everyone and is as important as physical health. So as an employer, we want to ensure that our employees receive the best support possible.

"Many people find it difficult to talk about and to know where to get help, which is why we are proud to support Mental Health Awareness Week.

"By talking about mental health and learning coping mechanisms and strategies, we hope to make it easier for our people to be mentally resilient and more able to cope with the ups and downs of life.”

Nathan Sweet, MHFA, said: “I first heard about the Mental Health First Aiders scheme at another company, and I thought it was a brilliant idea. So I was really pleased when the Society said they wanted to take part in the scheme.

"I wanted to volunteer as a MHFA as I have had a number of periods of depression, on and off since university and I know how isolating mental illness can be.

"There is a lot of stigma, particularly for men, which is a real barrier to getting help. So I’m really keen to talk about mental health issues and help raise awareness.”