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Mates in Mind Launches Education Initiative

Initiative targeting Northern Ireland construction workers' mental wellbeing

The charity Mates in Mind has today announced it will be delivering a series of educational sessions in a bid to start raising awareness, address the stigma of poor mental health and improve positive mental wellbeing amongst Northern Ireland’s construction workforce.

The issue of mental ill-health in the UK construction sector is a significant concern, with over a third of workers having experienced some condition in the past year. Almost a quarter of workers consider leaving the industry due to mental health-related problems, which is exacerbated by a prevailing belief that employers are neither able to recognise or address these problems1. Furthermore, the UK construction industry suffers from rates of suicide that are higher than any other industry sector, a fact compounded further by Northern Ireland’s already high rates of suicide compared to other parts of the UK & Republic of Ireland, which leaves its workers at potentially even greater risk.

Working to address this, the Health in Construction Leadership Group and IOSH (NI) have been instrumental in bringing Mates in Mind to Northern Ireland – in collaboration with the Workplace Health Leadership Group (NI) and working with delivery partner, Inspire Knowledge and Leadership.

CITB(NI) are providing initial funding for this kick start initiative, and offering: (a) twenty half-day training sessions, (b) a two-day mental health first aid training course that will lay the foundations for improving mental health and (c) two sessions specifically tailored for board members. On completion of the sessions, delegates will also have access to 24/7 telephone counselling support.

As a result, a cross section of around 400 people in Northern Ireland’s construction sector will be provided with the information, tools and techniques to spot the signs of poor mental health and learn how to guide their colleagues towards appropriate support. The sessions will focus on:

  • Getting construction workers thinking and talking about mental health;
  • Raising awareness of mental health literacy;
  • Reducing stigma around mental ill health and give attendees confidence in guiding people towards appropriate support and
  • Recognising how managers’ behaviours can affect workers’ wellbeing.

Announcing the launch, Joscelyne Shaw, Executive Director of Mates in Mind, said: “Today marks an important step for the Northern Ireland construction sector as it looks to tackle the stigma associated with poor mental health. This is achieved by creating a culture built on an understanding of what good mental health looks like.

“As a result of the generous funding provided by CITB(NI) and the efforts of our collaborators, we can now start the process of opening up the subject of mental health with conversations that can make a crucial difference to so many people’s lives”.

References

1 Randstad; Mental Health Foundation; Office of National Statistics.

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Mates in Mind launched in January 2017 and was founded by Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) and British Safety Council. It is supported by leading mental health charities and bodies including Mind, Samaritans and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Eng...
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