The next important step in the UK construction sector’s efforts to improve the health and mental wellbeing of its workforce has been marked, as it welcomes the full roll out of the Mates in Mind initiative.
Mates in Mind has led in the creation of a flexible and joined up approach that is tailored to the needs of individual construction companies as they seek to tackle poor mental health whilst also nurturing positive mental wellbeing amongst their workforce.
The programme is being delivered to the UK construction industry in support of the Health in Construction Leadership Group and in partnership with a number of industry representatives and mental health charities. Key to its success is breaking the silence and stigma that can surround mental health in society in general and the construction sector in particular by promoting a culture of positive wellbeing.
According to Health and Safety Executive figures, 18 per cent of reported work-related illnesses in the UK construction industry are the result of mental health problems, such as stress, depression or anxiety – accounting for 400k working days lost each year. Furthermore, industry data reports that 55 per cent of construction workers had experienced mental health issues whilst 42 per cent are living with these issues at their current workplace. Construction deaths from suicide are also believed to be potentially ten times higher than that of fatal accidents at work.
Central to the Mates in Mind framework is providing construction firms with a joined up approach to mental health, from support to employees, line managers and the organisation, through to a tiered training framework developed in collaboration with various organisations including British Safety Council, Mind and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. This builds understanding, knowledge and confidence amongst all workers, throughout the business, so that they can get the help they need as well as to identify colleagues who could benefit from further support.
Merchants and stockists may look to support the initiative, and promote its cause through their branches. More information on Mates in Mind and details on how to access its training materials and support resources are available at: www.matesinmind.org
Commenting on the further roll out of Mates in Mind, Steve Hails, Chair of Mates in Mind Board and Director of Health, Safety and Well-being at Tideway, said: “Today is a significant moment as we roll out the Mates in Mind framework and resources for businesses to use. This is the culmination of several months of hard work and would not have been possible without the substantial help of key mental health charities and its championing by industry representatives.
“Mates in Mind represents a meaningful way forward for tackling mental ill health in the workplace whilst also encouraging a positive wellbeing culture. Uniquely, this approach offers flexibility which enables a business to tailor the resources to their needs so that priorities can be more effectively targeted. In doing so, it should be possible to start making serious progress into an issue that is currently the source of much needless pain for so many.”
Supporting the announcement, Clive Johnson, Chair of the Health in Construction Leadership Group and Head of Health and Safety at Landsec, said: “For too many years the industry has been shouting about safety but only whispering about health. I am extremely proud that Landsec and the HCLG are at the forefront of ensuring mental health provision within construction is dramatically improved.”
Josceylene Shaw, Executive Director of Mates in Mind, said: “As we all know, there is no health without mental health. The construction industry’s championing of Mates in Mind sends a strong message about the role workplaces can play in supporting workers’ mental wellbeing and helps to demonstrate their commitment to leading the way in managing this important issue both to their staff and society more broadly.”
Christian Van Stolk, RAND Europe, said: “It is well documented that the construction industry has many characteristics that could affect the mental health of its workforce. This year, through RAND Europe’s work with Vitality’s Britain’s Healthiest Workplace and working with Mates in Mind we have found that there is high variance in the survey results between construction organisations.
“This is especially noticeable in areas such as financial concerns, work-related stress and unrealistic time pressures where in some organisations there were much higher risks reported compared to the average. This suggests that in designing mental health approaches across the sector there is an opportunity to acknowledge differing cultures and sub-sectors, learn from each other and to work to reduce variance.”