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Why should security staff care about mental health?

At Bouygues Energies & Services we care about mental health. We have a number of trained Mental Health First Aiders across the company who can spot signs of colleagues who may be having a difficult time and offer help. In addition, the focus of our ‘Health and Safety’ week held in October was around mental health and wellbeing.

This focus extends to our security teams working for clients across a number of sites, in a number of sectors. They provide a caring and supportive approach to those they protect.

Towards the end of 2018 we attended the ‘Security in Higher Education’ event organised by Salford University, at the Radisson Blu hotel in Manchester. As well as supporting the event as a sponsor, our main objective was to highlight how important it is for security staff at universities and colleges to look out for the mental health and wellbeing of those they are protecting.

Rob Hudson our Senior Security Operations Manager hosted our presentation. Rob opened by highlighting some alarming figures about student suicide. The rate of student suicide in higher education between July 2016 and July 2017 in England and Wales was 4.7 deaths per 100,000 students, which equates to 95 suicides; this is expected to increase. Rob explained the ‘traditional’ security model is about providing a strict and robust service and ensuring certain rules are followed. However, our aim is to keep people safe. When students are suffering with mental health problems that lead them to make decisions that put their lives at risk, we need to know about it and help them.

Our Student Welfare Values

We have introduced ‘student welfare values’ to ensure the mental health of students is at the forefront of the work we do. They are to: notice, listen, support, engage, protect, inform and care.

As part of our approach we ensure that we:

  • get to know students early and let them know that the security reception is a place of safety and they can come and talk to any staff member at any time during the day or night
  • recruit the right people that are approachable and able to make a connection with students
  • train our teams to be skilled in observation, profiling, welfare and safety, as well as how to deal with suicide attempts
  • provide stability by keeping the same people in a team for a full term, having a trained backup team and giving staff access to mental health support

Delegates were able to find out more about our approach at our stand where we also showed them various items we give out to students to help keep them safe in other ways including personal alarms, torches and ways of checking whether their drinks have been spiked with alcohol or drugs.

We are keen to build on our approach and ensure our model is taken forward into our other sectors and future contracts.

When providing effective security, wellbeing cannot be ignored.

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