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Mates in Mind calls for immediate action to improve workplace mental health

A recent survey that showed six out of 10 workers in construction have suffered mental ill-health because of their work. Following this, coinciding today with Mental Health Awareness Day, the charity Mates in Mind, is calling on industry leaders and government to be more considerate and consistent to achieve meaningful improvement within the workplace.

This has never been more important in the fight to address the high rate of suicide within the UK construction industry. Construction is a sector in which the impact of mental ill-health and suicide are particularly prominent, with reports showing that within the industry two workers take their own life every working day.

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) recognises this risk and supports Mates in Mind, among other charities, in an attempt to raise awareness and support those within the industry who may be struggling with their mental health.

Thursday 10 October is World Mental Health Day, an internationally recognised day in which organisations and individuals come together to break the silence surrounding mental ill-health.

This year’s theme focuses on suicide prevention. According to The Office of National Statistics, in 2018 there was a rise in the number of deaths by suicide with 6,507 recorded - the highest level since 2002.

James Rudoni, managing director for Mates in Mind, said: “We are deeply concerned to see a rise in this figure, despite the attention that has been given to suicide prevention and increased awareness of mental health in recent years.

“The work that Mates in Mind is doing to further raise awareness, address the stigma and improve mental wellbeing throughout workplaces across construction and associated industries, continues unabated. And over the last three years, this interest hasn’t dropped off, in fact just the opposite.

“A significant part of the work that we do is to provide real understanding and clarity around the issue of mental health. Signposting and supporting organisations to deliver the right support for their workforce. It is vital that organisations realise that this requires them to listen, encourage and support employees, rather than simply running short-term awareness campaign or one-off training.

“We are seeing the evidence from an increasing number of our supporter organisations that taking a ‘whole organisation’ approach is having both quantifiable and qualitative impact.

“For example, in the last two years, Tideway has reported a 12 percent rise in the number of staff who felt that they could approach their boss with a mental health problem – up from 64 percent in 2017 to 76 percent in 2018. A similar increase was reported in RSE Building Services where they reported a nine percent rise in staff feeling supported in relation to mental health – up from 66 percent in 2018 to 75 percent in 2019.

“It is important to create space to talk about mental health at work, and through improved awareness, increase individual’s understandings of how and where they can get support. That is why we are so pleased to be a partner supporting Public Health England’s campaign Every Mind Matters – enabling individuals to understand and better manage their own mental health.

“But the fact remains, employers, must do more to ensure that the environments in which their workers are operating are improved to sustain an individual’s mental wellbeing, and in turn their businesses overall.”

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