A HOUSING association has trained 150 employees to become mental health first aiders.

Aster Group, which has a base in Andover, signed the Time to Change pledge less than a year ago, and has gone beyond its original target to train 100 members of staff.

The initiative aims to help colleagues better support each other and customers, and the company has also employed a mental health partner.

Employees are encouraged to raise money for mental health charities with all the proceeds being match-funded by Aster.

In 11 months the housing provider has raised nearly £2,000 for MIND.

Bjorn Howard, group chief executive at Aster Group, said: “Mental health remains one of the last taboos in this country – particularly in the workplace.

“Yet it is fundamentally important that we have systems in place and offer help to people facing mental health issues.

“We want to help break down some of the barriers and prejudices of mental health. We believe it’s very important that we talk openly and honestly about mental health related issues and that we are there for colleagues and customers.”

Aster’s plans to train more mental health first aiders; educate and support menopause in the workplace; help reduce the stigma by sharing personal stories; and offer match funding and volunteering days.