Mates in Mind in the Construction Industry

Mates in Mind in the Construction Industry

21st September 2017

Here at Safety Fabrications we have a vested interest in health and safety, after all we’re in the business of providing safe access equipment to a range of industries, including the construction industry.  While we usually concentrate on the safety aspect of “health and safety”, we also recognise the importance of promoting health in the workplace.  In the past we’ve covered stories on the significance of mental health issues, including the Time to Change Employer Pledge and how to spot the symptoms of stress.  In August we reported on the high incidence of suicide among those working in skilled building trades and the Mates in Mind initiative, a construction industry mental health wellbeing scheme.

Mates in Mind was piloted by several large companies but is now being made available to the construction sector as a whole.  The scheme aims to create a comprehensive, flexible approach to mental health issues that can be tailored to the requirements of individual construction companies.  It’s hoped that the scheme will help companies to tackle poor mental health while nurturing positive mental wellbeing in the workforce.

One of the core issues is to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues in what is traditionally a tough, male dominated sector.  While research suggests that 18% of reported work related illnesses result from mental health problems, including stress, depression and anxiety, leading to the loss of 400,000 working days each year.  It’s also been discovered that a significant 55% of construction workers have experienced mental health issues at some point, with 42% living with these issues in their current workplace.  Shockingly, construction deaths resulting from suicide are believed to be ten times higher than that of fatal accidents at work!

The Mates in Mind framework, with a host of extra resources is being rolled out for businesses to use in order to encourage a positive culture of wellbeing in the workplace.  A major element of the scheme is the “joined up” approach which has enjoyed support from employees, line managers and at an organisational level.  Three is a tiered training framework which has been developed in collaboration with the British Safety Council (BSC), mental health charity MIND and MHFA (Mental Health First Aid) England.  The scheme enables a business to tailor the resources to their individual needs so that they can effectively ascertain, then target their priorities.

Construction is still, for the most part, a male-dominated industry and men, traditionally, are not expected to talk about their feelings in the same way as women do.  Bringing the issue of mental health into the open is the only way in which the industry can make some progress and ensure that mental health provision within our sector is dramatically improved.  If the construction industry as a whole champions Mates in Mind it’s likely to send a powerful message about how the workplace can play a vital role in supporting the health and mental wellbeing of all of us working in this sector.   Demonstrating a commitment to improvement is the first step along the road to managing this health issue that will benefit workers and society in a broader sense.