ESB – Provision of support to staff who are acutely distressed.




Company Description:

Ireland’s leading Energy Provider


Business Issue:

Promoting positive mental health in the workplace.


Solution Applied:

ESB has teamed up with Pieta House to run a pilot initiative called “Mind Ur Buddy”, which is aimed at raising the awareness of suicide prevention across the company.  Under this pilot, 11 staff members have volunteered to undergo training with Pieta House and take on the role of Buddy Support Person (BSP) in order to be able to offer immediate support to any of their colleagues who may be feeling suicidal or acutely distressed.

The BSPs have been trained by Pieta House in their Ask, Persuade, Refer (APR) approach i.e.

Ask – the colleague how s/he is feeling and if s/he is suicidal
Persuade – the colleague to seek help
Refer – the colleague to a qualified counsellor

Under the scheme, staff members will be able to contact any of the Buddy Support Persons, in confidence, for help and guidance.  The BSP will meet the staff member and explain how the scheme works.  The BSP will try to reassure the staff member that what they are feeling is normal and that regardless how difficult the problem seems to be, immediate professional help is available free of charge.

The Buddy Support Person will have the name and contact details of a designated Pieta House Therapist who will be available to meet or talk with the BSP and take the referral. Pieta House will offer a programme of professional counselling in order to guide the staff member through the crisis and help them take control over the problem and get emotions and feelings back to normal.

A BSP will offer full confidentiality in so far as possible. However this confidentiality can be breached in situations where the staff member does not wish to avail of professional help and the BSP feels the staff member’s life is in danger.


Company Benefits:

ESB has a long history of promoting positive mental health in the workplace and runs a number of successful stress management programmes.  This pilot complements the work already underway and provides an acute service at a particular time of difficulty for a staff member.


According to Sarah Claxton, ESB Internal Communications Manager, “We want our staff to feel supported and encouraged.  Each person is a valuable member of our community and we think that this programme has an important place in our package of staff supports.”


Stakeholder Benefits:

Mental Health promotion needs to be sensitively and carefully communicated.  By working with staff as Buddy’s, we are seeking to make the intervention as local, relevant and stress-free as possible.  Working with experts in the field (Pieta House) reassures us (and the staff service providers) that our approach is effective and appropriate.


Further Information:

Sarah Claxton, ESB Internal Communications Manager.  Email: