To mark Stress Awareness Month, Community Dental Services CIC is proud to have recruited a team of fully trained Mental Health First Aiders, who have been providing Mental Health First Aid to its employees since January.

Our trained employee Mental Health First Aid Responders are available to support colleagues on struggles with stress, anxiety, depression or to provide a listening ear for someone who needs to talk.

Covid-19 caused significant interruption to routine dental care and to people’s working patterns. CDS has responded to the Covid-19 crisis by being part of the Urgent Dental Care Network of clinics set up to provide care for patients where consultation by telephone or video is not a viable option. Clinical teams have had to cope with the additional pressures of wearing PPE for their shifts and of working remotely.

Ben Browning-White of the CDS People Team, who was instrumental in setting up the scheme, along with compulsory training for CDS leaders in mental health awareness, is one of the company’s Mental Health First Aiders and praises the new provision available to employees. “It is so important that we, as an organisation, support the well-being of our employees. There is lots of support available already, but this is an additional avenue of support for our teams. By being trained Mental Health First Aiders we provide another option for our employees to access, enabling us to look after the needs of our colleagues”. 

Working life for many of CDS colleagues has changed significantly, with some front-line staff not working and support staff working from home. The effects of Covid-19 prompted CDS to support the mental health and well-being of our colleagues. Tim Ladd, Managing Director of Red Umbrella praised CDS for acting so quickly to recognise the importance of supporting their colleagues. “Never before has employee support for mental well-being been so important; Covid19 has really impacted employee’s mental health in so many ways. CDS put effective measures in place very quickly and have engaged in Mental Health First Aider training and made sure that the First Aiders themselves are also provided for with their own aftercare and support. CDS are a clear example of good practice in considering effective measures for employee well-being and we look forward to building the continued relationship.”.

Ben is proud to be one of 16 employees to have undertaken the Red Umbrella course, recognised and regulated by Ofqual. “If colleagues are having any struggles, it’s important that they have someone to talk to. Our role is to listen, and we are able to signpost colleagues to the appropriate professional support if required.”. 

“Red umbrella has created CDS a bespoke platform with care coins that enables each member of staff access to one-to-one therapy services relevant to their individual requirements, the services are well used by CDS employees and the feedback has been extremely good regarding the services” added Tim.

The mental health first aider scheme complements a range of other measures introduced by teams across CDS to support each other through the Covid crisis, including daily huddles and a ‘Wobble Room’, a quiet space where colleagues could take time out if needed.


Notes to editor:

Contact: Heidi Maury-Hubbard, Communications Coordinator.

About CDS

Community Dental Services (CDS-CIC) is a 100% employee-owned social enterprise providing community dental services to the NHS and oral health improvement programmes throughout Bedfordshire, Luton, Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, Essex, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk and Waveney.

Our social mission is to Improve Oral Health in Ever More Communities.

2021 sees CDS mark 10 years as an employee-owned social enterprise. The company was officially incorporated on 4th March and began trading on 1st April 2011.
CDS transitioned from the NHS 10 years ago under ‘Right to Provide’, with a clear conviction that being an independent organisation would afford more control over how services were delivered and, ultimately, on the quality care patients received.  

Red Umbrella

Specialists in on-site mental health training for senior management, line managers and staff with courses fully recognised by accredited companies; delivered by mental health experts.

Mental Health Training Experts | Red Umbrella (