This week was Mental Health Awareness Week - a now high profile campaign kicked off by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The trio are spearheading the "Heads Together" project in a bid to end stigma surrounding mental health. 

The taboos of mental health are gradually slipping away as we all begin to understand more about the issues and how we can support and better identify those individuals affected.

1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year (source: Mind). More than 1m people work in customer contact in the UK, many handling emotional and challenging interactions.  Coupled with the maths around the number of customers with mental health issues dealing with employees with potential mental health problems, there are real challenges to be faced. As organisations strive to become more effective to meet the demands of today's ever competitive climate, they must ensure that they are mindful of the need to balance their offering with an understanding of the challenges facing colleagues and customers alike. 

This year’s campaign is specifically focused around the importance of ‘relationships’ in their many forms and their role in supporting good mental health.  The Mental Health Foundation found striking evidence showing the impact of relationships on our health and wellbeing to be comparable to well established risk factors such as smoking. 

Every day we form and build relationships with customers and colleagues and they present opportunities to us to build positive engagement and support for those that are vulnerable.

Following 18 months of consultation with industry, last year we launched CCA Global Standard V6.  One of its aims is to support organisations with establishing good practice in dealing with both vulnerable colleagues, and of course vulnerable customers.  Version 6 is recognised as the definitive benchmark and accredited organisations can be proud of their achievements in balancing the needs of the customer with that of process and organisational objectives for growth and profitability. 

The Mental Health Foundation is calling on us all to make 'Relationships Resolutions'. People who make a resolution will receive a text on New Year's Eve, December 31st, checking in to see how they have done and encouraging them to carry their resolutions forward into the New Year. Perhaps this offers us all a time for reflection on the relationships we have and what they mean to us both personally and professionally and could we do more? 

For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 visit the Mental Health Foundation.