Mental Health Awareness Week should be cancelled

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By Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Club

The year we cancel Mental Health Awareness Week will be because the mental health of our workforce is treated as significantly and comes as naturally as ensuring their physical safety. It will come at a time when everyone in our industry is aware of the importance of good mental wellbeing, every operation has a mental health policy and the suicide rate in construction has been significantly reduced.

However, according to the recent CIOB survey, taken before the Covid-19 outbreak, we have a long way to go and the day we cancel Mental Health Awareness Week will not be anytime soon.

We need more companies to engage, accelerate and amplify our efforts to improve our workforce wellbeing. By following a simple five step guideline, any company can embrace the change without considerable financial outlay.

Step 1: Commitment:  Management agree policy and sign up to treating mental health as a priority in their operation

Step 2: Access to an EAP: Everyone in the operation including all onsite subcontractors should have access to an Employee Assistance Programme. If  no scheme is available,  use our charity’s free  Construction Industry Helpline and supporting App.

Step 3: Start the conversation:  Deliver regular on-site wellbeing toolbox talks to get people talking together

Step 4: Awareness:  All people managers should attend an online or on-site Mental Health Awareness course.

Step 5: On Site Mental Health First Aiders:  Every operation should have an onsite Mental Health First Aider in the same ratio as physical first aiders

Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Club construction charity
Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Club

Following this simple five step incurs little cost,  makes construction a more attractive place to work for the next generation and could ultimately save lives.  

However, if all else fails try adopting these 3 life principles:

  1. Always ask twice. Make eye contact, you don’t always get the true answer first time around 
  2. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.  Listen and don’t judge, easier said than done! And be the last to talk.
  3. Always be kind, there is no reason to be unkind even if you need to deliver a tough message it can be done in a humane way.

These 3 life principles are easy to say and difficult to follow, but if we did, the world would be a better place and Mental Health Awareness Week would be a thing of the past.

Find out more about the 5 Step guideline.