Through initiatives such as Mates in Mind, Recticel Insulation promotes mental health awareness: What more can be done to ensure employees get the message that mental health really matters?
A lot of lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic in a number of ways: increased financial burden, childcare issues, disruption to routines and of course, lack of contact with friends, loved ones and colleagues.
Mental health issues are present in all industries and all walks of life. If any particular sector or part of a sector feels that it doesn’t affect them, then it’s far more likely that they haven’t yet done enough to promote mental health awareness and encourage employees to speak up. If one person is saying that mental health doesn’t affect their industry, then the person next to them may think twice about speaking-up and shattering that illusion.
Steve Brosnan, quality assurance manager and wellbeing champion at Recticel Insulation, said: “I’ve always encountered an ‘open door’ policy from managers and, of course, Human Resources. This ensures that there are never intentionally any barriers put in place to employees discussing whatever issues they may have. We’ve also introduced a number of initiatives over recent months.
“Firstly, we’ve raised awareness of mental health in an attempt to remove the stigma of both struggling and opening-up about those struggles. Secondly, we’ve put in place other lines of communication for employees in all departments.
“We recognise, for example, that not everybody will be comfortable about talking to their immediate manager about these issues or asking to sit with Human Resources. It might be that they are more likely to open up to peers in their own areas or even colleagues from other departments, knowing that they will not see them every day. Everybody is different in that respect.
“Months before the pandemic broke out or many of us had even heard of Coronavirus, we enrolled a number of volunteers on a Mental Health Awareness training course, conducted on-site by an external provider. This not only included management and Human Resources, but also employees from all departments at all levels. Many of these went on to become our ‘Wellbeing Champions’.”
Talking openly about mental health
Key to improving the construction industry’s attitude regarding mental health awareness is to remove that stigma of admitting that you are struggling. The only way to do that is to keep talking openly about mental health, not just during Awareness Week in May but throughout the year, in order for it to become the norm, part of everyday conversation. Training-up Wellbeing Champions, as Recticel has done, is a great idea that could be adopted across the industry.
All companies have First Aiders and Fire Wardens for example, so why not introduce the idea of a Mental Health Champion in the same way? It would not only demonstrate to employees that their company takes mental health seriously, it would ensure that everybody has somebody to talk to.