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Construction mental health initiative launched

Mental health awareness

A new initiative to address mental health issues in the construction industry has been launched.

The Mates in Mind programme has been launched by the British Safety Council in partnership with Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG).

The HCLG wants the programme to increase understanding of mental health issues in the construction industry, and the stigmas attached to them. It said that it gave managers the tools, information and training to make construction a healthier workplace and to encourage people to have conversations with colleagues about their mental health.

The initiative is supported by mental health charities, such as Mind, Samaritans and Mental Health First Aid England, and industry bodies, including Build UK, training body CITB and the Health & Safety Executive, International Institute of Risk & Safety Management and the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

British Safety Council chief executive Mike Robinson said that in the UK, for every one working day lost due to injury, five days were lost due to ill-health. Nearly half of days lost to illness are caused by mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.

He said that mental health issues caused the loss of 91M working days were lost each year in the UK. This equates to £1,035 per employee, according to the Centre for Mental Health.

“Approximately one-sixth of the 2.1M construction workers in the UK are likely to be suffering from a mental health issue at any one point in time; a figure based on research by ONS [Office of National Statistics],” he said. “It’s a shocking statistic. Even more shocking is the fact that in the construction sector, people are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than from on-site accidents. Considering these alarming statistics, I struggle to understand why there’s so little focus on reducing suicide, compared to reducing accidents.

“The vision of the British Safety Council is that ’no-one should be injured or made ill at work’. However, like the construction sector, historically, we’ve shouted safety and whispered health. The Health in Construction Leadership Group is determined to readdress this balance, and I’m proud to be the CEO of an organisation that isn’t just saying we agree, but is at the forefront of actually doing something about it.”

Tideway director of Health, Safety & Wellbeing Steve Hails who is also an executive member of the HCLG and chair of Mates in Mind said: “The Mates in Mind programme is a single, consistent programme for the construction industry, designed in response to its expectations and requirements.

“The programme, developed in close partnership with Mind, MHFA England and Samaritans, is raising awareness of the problem and providing support for those who need it. At the heart of it is a three-tier approach, starting with 45-minute general awareness training for operatives that will begin the conversation about mental health. Its third most advanced form is a two-day programme to train volunteer mental health champions who will support workers suffering from mental ill health. We are looking for 100% support from the industry for this initiative.”


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