The statistics for the UK suicide rates within the construction industry making shocking reading – on average in the UK a construction worker takes their life at the rate of 2 per day. In an industry that spends millions of pounds and man hours on schemes and systems to ensure the physical safety of their work force, it’s a sad indictment of the construction industry that it fails to address mental well being.
Becoming a Mental Health First Aider
I first became a Mental Health First Aider in November 2018, inspired after attending an HR Forum meeting with HR Connect Over Coffee. The Speaker discussed the impact of stress on the body and the consequences of stress in the workplace. Intrigued, I researched further, and armed with statistics from the construction industry, I wanted to learn more about how to support people experiencing mental ill health and sought out a mental health first aid course.
I learnt some valuable skills from the 2 day course – primarily don’t try and fix someone who is suffering, listen, signpost to a professional and support them through their journey (or AlGEE)
A – ASSESS FOR RISK OF SUICIDE OR HARM
L - LISTEN NON-JUDGMENTALLY
G – GIVE REASSURANCE AND INFORMATION
E – ENCOURAGE APPROPRIATE PROFESSIONAL HELP
E – ENCOURAGE SELF-HELP AND OTHER SUPPORT STRATEGIES
When working on site with our contracting team, and as part of a contractor induction, we highlight who is the first aider for the site along with the mental health first aid representative. I find that contractors will often chat to me as the mental health first aider during tea breaks or lunch time, and what I have come to understand is that despite the bravado, the banter, and the machismo, many of them appreciate the opportunity to talk to someone in an informal and confidential way, and to be listened to without judgement. For my part I have found being a mental health first aider deeply rewarding and have received some moving feedback from those I have encouraged to access the right support.
As a BT advertising campaign once celebrated ‘It’s good to talk!’
As this is Mental Health Awareness week (May 18th – May 24th, 2020) – it’s important to remember that we all need to show a little more kindness and that those who really need our help and support, often don’t feel able to ask for it. So, be more kind to others and yourself too.