EY has launched a new approach to employee wellbeing called Health EY.
The programme includes the introduction of mental health first-aiders across the professional services firm.
Employees will be trained to act as a first point of call for colleagues who are facing mental health challenges or seeking advice.
The organisation has also formed a mental health buddy scheme to provide an informal support network to anyone affected by a mental health condition.
It has also introduced initiatives, such as preventative monthly health education campaigns and established clinical care pathways for muscular, mental and physical health conditions.
The launch of the new programme coincides with Time to Talk day on 6 February, the official day of Time to Change, England’s biggest mental health anti-stigma programme.
It also coincides with EY’s signing of the Department of Health’s Public Health Responsibility Deal’s eight pledges.
The pledges cover a range of areas, such as access to healthy-eating options, staff health checks, use of accredited occupational health providers and procedures to support staff with chronic illnesses.
Steve Varley, chairman and managing partner of EY in the UK and Ireland, said: “Our people are our business. With more than 12,000 staff across the UK, it’s vital that we are providing the resources to enable each one of them to thrive.
“We aren’t about to remove the chocolate machines or enforce lunchtime gym sessions, but we are committed to providing the support and knowledge to enable them to take control of their own physical and mental health.”
Steve Wilkinson, managing partner for client service at EY in the UK and Ireland, and partner sponsor of Health EY, added: “Within our new programme, we have placed an increased emphasis on tackling the stigma of mental health, which is often viewed as the last workplace taboo.
“The introduction of mental health first-aiders and a buddy system will supplement our existing employee networks, providing a great way to get people talking about an issue that affects more than one in six people in the UK.”
Earl Howe, health minister, said: “It’s good to see a leading high profile organisation like EY putting employee health, including mental health, firmly on its HR agenda and signing up to the Responsibility Deal pledges.
“Mental health conditions cost UK organisations £8.4 billion in sickness absence and a further £15.1 billion in lost productivity.
“For business, economic and moral reasons, it is therefore important that employers play their part in supporting people with such conditions to retain their jobs, and when they are absent in enabling them to return to work as soon as they can.
“Thoughtful, well-informed management in respect of employees’ mental and physical health can produce real benefits. Besides reduced sickness absence, those benefits include better staff engagement, improved productivity and reduced staff turnover.”
Dame Carol Black, chair or the Responsibility Deal Health at Work network, added: “I am delighted to see EY make this major commitment in signing up to eight Responsibility Deal pledges.
“It sets an admirable example when a prestigious organisation puts employee health and wellbeing high on its corporate agenda, recognising the importance the workplace plays in maintaining good mental and physical health and wellbeing.”