VIVID, one of the south’s leading housing associations, has embedded a team of mental health “champions” into its customer contact centre to provide dedicated support to customers known to have mental health issues or whose behaviour shows signs of concern.
The team of 4 has undergone mental health training that has included shadowing specialist wellbeing support workers. They will be taking calls directed to them when the customer shows on VIVID’s records as having a declared mental health history, or when colleagues pick up any signs on the phone that suggest the customer would benefit from a more sympathetic conversation.
They will also be making proactive calls to reach out and offer an ongoing relationship with those with known issues. And they’ll be available day to day to mentor and advise staff.
Naomi Saunders, Customer Experience Team Leader, who heads up VIVID’s mental health champions, said: “Our experience suggests that the range of services based on wellbeing as well as traditional landlord services, means customers will often call us before they approach their GP.
“Our team is able to build an ongoing, sympathetic relationship with a customer based on insight and understanding, recognising language and tone of voice signals revealed on the phone or email. Our training means we can also signpost customers to appropriate external professional support and ensure subject knowledge-sharing with our colleagues.”
VIVID employs 56 staff in its Customer Experience team. The 4 mental health awareness champions have been trained across areas of need, from support when indicators of suicidal tendencies are shown to when concerns are raised about hoarding, often an indicator of mental health trauma.
In December, VIVID became the first housing association to trial customer access to a specialist app – Telljo – that helps customers flag concerns and anxieties, engage with VIVID’s Tenancy Support team or be signposted to appropriate services.
Jonathan Cowie, VIVID Chief Operating Officer, said: “Most people in wider society will be affected by mental health at some point in their lives. Making sure we have dedicated front line groups such as our Customer Experience mental health champions helps us build relationships with both customers and health service partners.”
Our experience suggests that the range of services based on wellbeing as well as traditional landlord services, means customers will often call us before they approach their GP