In its continuing bid to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and to highlight the need to create healthier workplaces, UK charity Mates in Mind has featured on BBC News as part of a short series raising awareness of mental health in the construction sector.
Broadcast last week across the BBC’s TV, radio and online news channels, the series centres on telling two construction workers’ – Lee Rowland and Simon Pantry – stories of dealing with poor mental wellbeing and feelings of suicide.
Mates in Mind has already reached in excess of 150,000 workers, like Lee and Simon, in its first year by providing more than 150 supporter and partner construction firms with tailored resources and support. These help all construction firms, irrespective of their scale and scope, to understand what mental wellbeing means for their workforce, gives them the knowledge to invest in the things that will make a difference and the confidence to know the improvements that they make will bring real and lasting change.
As part of its programme making, BBC News attended and recorded one of Mates in Mind’s bespoke training programmes being delivered at a work site operated by construction firm Barhale – a leading supporter of Mates in Mind. The course, known as Start the Conversation, provides learners with the practical skills necessary to identify the signs of poor mental wellbeing in themselves and their co-workers, giving people the confidence to step in, reassure and support colleagues and to know how and where to seek further help. This represents the fundamental themes underpinning all of Mates in Mind’s work: to raise awareness of the issues, helping people to understand how, when and where to get support, as well as breaking the silence and stigma by promoting cultures of positive wellbeing that reflect every company’s unique needs.
Commenting on the Mates in Mind and BBC News collaboration, Joanne Southan, Health & Wellbeing Advisor at Barhale, and Mates in Mind supporter organisation, said: “We are really encouraged by the BBC’s and Mates in Mind’s support in raising awareness of mental health in the construction industry workplace. Being a people centric organisation, it is something very close to our heart at Barhale and an integral part of our Be Safe Be Healthy and Learning and Development strategies.”
Reflecting on its work with BBC News, Joscelyne Shaw, Executive Director, Mates in Mind, said: “We are indebted to Lee and Simon who were willing to share their important stories so that others wrestling with poor mental wellbeing can see they are not alone. We were delighted to be able to show how Mates in Mind is having a direct impact every day with workers throughout the industry. There is much more that we need to do to address this complex challenge, but starting a conversation, learning it’s okay to ask how someone is, is the surest way to begin to bring about this much needed change.”