Monday 23 October 2023

Create Space case study: CHEP Network

CHEP Network is the first ACA member agency to have achieved recognition as a Mental Health First Aid Skilled Workplace. Tech Program Director and Mental Health Committee Lead, Louise Hesse, shares some tips on navigating the application process. 


Why did CHEP Network decide to tackle the Mental Health action and become a Mental Health First Aid Skilled Workplace?

Becoming an MHFA Skilled Workplace is a great benchmark for any company to start their mental health wellness journey. The Create Space report highlighted how important this issue is for our industry, with 28% of us affected by a mental health condition.

The Mental Health First Aid® Workplace Recognition Program recognises organisations that invest in developing their people’s mental health first aid skills and acknowledges their achievement and commitment to embedding MHFA training into their culture through actions like senior leadership support, relevant policies, supporting Mental Health First Aid Officers and continuous improvement.

To be awarded, businesses only have to qualify for 9 of the 18 standards but going through them is really helpful to see what you are already doing right as a company, and what you need to think about and plan for the future. 

We thought it was a great qualification to set standards and keep us accountable for maintaining them.

Who from the agency was involved? How long was the process?

Once we reviewed the criteria we realised we were already implementing some of them, so we just had to gather evidence. But from deciding to apply to actually applying, it was about a 5-month process. 

The main reason it takes a while is that 10% of the company has to have completed Mental Health First Aid training in the last three years. While CHEP had over 20 people, we had to boost this to 35 which required budget and time to organise. It’s also important that a broad, diverse and accessible network of Mental Health First Aid Officers is established across the agency, so we needed to engage with people across all of our offices.

This process was driven by CHEP Network’s Mental Health Committee led by me, with support from Maddison Lukes – Data Scientist, and Tom Hrambanis – People & Culture Consultant.


Any useful tips, advice or resources that might help other agencies?

Have a small group working on it, too many people can get complicated. 

The qualification criteria can feel a little repetitive, and certain actions and policies can go against multiple items. It helps to review all the criteria and pick the ones you want to focus on, then list out everything you already do to qualify and what documentation you will need as proof. 

Mental Health First Aid only review the entries quarterly, so we’d recommend looking at those dates and working back from there. 

The other tip is to ensure you’re keeping records of communications you send, posters you put up and how you store important information. Creating a shared file to gather this information and labelling it usefully makes the application process much easier. 

And most importantly, don’t rush it. The whole point of this is to make the place you work in a safer one, so don’t just tick a box, think about whether what you’re doing is enough and if there’s scope to improve it before you submit.

Ensure there is a future plan and roadmap in place to maintain the momentum and recognise all the areas where there is an opportunity to improve. This is an ongoing program. 

Have you noticed any improvements since implementing this action?

This initiative and our MHFA Skilled Workplace recognition have come up in conversations with clients and on pitches and it’s received positively. It has also given our Mental Health committee a clear roadmap to focus on over the next year. 

We’re incredibly proud to be officially recognised, but we continue to work together to create a safe and supportive workplace for all our staff and build our skills to the next level in this area to ensure that our employees’ mental well-being remains a top priority.


The Create Space Census is open until November 28 2023, to chart the ad industry’s progress on diversity and inclusion. Jump onto to complete the 15-minute survey and join us in making Adland a more inclusive place to work! Click here.

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