Mental health awareness in the workplace

Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave, with anxiety and depression being the most common mental health problems that affect people’s lives. Fortunately, awareness surrounding mental health is growing and last month saw World Mental Health Day on 10th October. However, within the workplace often a stigma still appears to be associated with mental health issues, especially in the construction industry, despite it being a very real issue.

Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) report that stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest cause of sickness absence in our society, with mental ill health responsible for 91 million working days lost every year. cite that the construction industry alone is said to have one in six employees experiencing depression, anxiety or other stress-related problems, and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) report that research shows more than 4 in 5 construction workers say they feel stressed at least some of the time during a typical week.

Due to the high frequency of mental health conditions, not only in the workplace but in the  general population – approx. 25% of people experience at least one diagnosable mental health issue at any one time – at RF Fixing we decided to take positive action to educate our workforce about mental health and engaged with the expertise of Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA) to aid us with this.

MHFA England are the largest provider of Mental Health First Aid training in the UK and Europe, with over ten years of experience supporting businesses to create and sustain healthier workplaces. Their training courses teach people to spot the signs of mental health issues, offer initial help and guide a person towards support.

The half day course ‘Mental Health Awareness’ was delivered by an MHFA trainer to our team of managers and supervisors, at our 250 City Road project site.

The course proved to be an eye-opener for anyone with no previous experience or understanding of mental health issues, or knowledge of how to deal with them.  Topics covered included:

  • Definition of mental health and some mental health issues
  • Increased understanding of factors that affect mental health, including influences and sources of stress
  • Identifying the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues
  • How to feel more confident about starting a conversation about mental health
  • Understand how to look after your own mental health, and what strategies to adopt for happier living

The course was very successful and extremely beneficial!

“I would advise anyone working in a supervision / management position to complete the MHFA course to encourage talking about mental health issues at work, identifying issues and being able to offer initial help, along with the breaking down of barriers and stigma in regard to mental health.”

Aleks – RF Fixing Health and Safety Manager