1,600 construction workers now trained in Mental Health First Aid

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Mental Health First Aid, construction workers,
© Dmitry Kalinovsky

Two years on from its launch, Building Mental Health (BMH) has announced the delivery of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England training to over 1,600 people in the construction sector

This comes at a time when the suicide rate for low-skilled manual construction workers is three times higher than the national average for male suicide.

Since July 2017, Building Mental Health has coordinated the training of over 140 MHFA England Instructor Members, who have gone on to train over 750 people in the industry as Mental Health First Aiders, with a further 800 trained in mental health awareness.

Funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the initiative aims to train a further 144 MHFA England instructors, with ambitions to deliver training to tens of thousands more staff across the sector in the coming years.

Geeta Nathan, head of economic analysis at CITB, said: “CITB is pleased to see the success of this vital industry collaboration on one of the most important issues facing the construction sector today – the mental health and wellbeing of its workers.

“The delivery of mental health training to 1,600 people in the construction sector will have a positive impact on individuals, families and communities in England. However, more work needs to be done to shape culture change and ensure construction workers do not suffer stigma, or in silence, anymore. CITB will strive to expand on the excellent mental health training underway.”

BMH has connected with organisations including ACAS, the CITB, the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS), Construction News, Build UK, the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and Remploy, as well as a number of leading construction firms and mental health organisations. The group’s vision is to enable all parts of the construction sector to access mental health support by providing awareness and training and putting in place structures and systems of support.

Commenting on the group’s work, Martin Coyd OBE, one of the founders of Building Mental Health, said: “With this fantastic collaboration, we have been able to create a charter and an industry-wide framework to begin tackling the mental health crisis in the construction sector.

“We want everyone in the industry to recognise that training provided by Building Mental Health partners is critical to tackling the industry’s mental health crisis – and that these efforts will only be successful if we all work together.

“Our focus is on preventing mental illness, promoting good mental health, and making sure the right guidance is there when people need it most. Training is a key part of this and thanks to our work with Mental Health First Aid England, 1,600 people across the industry now have the awareness and skills they need to better support their own and others’ mental health.”

Simon Blake OBE, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, said: “Every day 15 people take their life in this country, and every day two of these 15 are construction staff. We simply must do more to protect and promote mental health in the construction industry.

“Initiatives like Building Mental Health are helping firms to take huge strides. Thanks to this coalition’s ambitious training programme there is more mental health awareness, more understanding and more frontline support in construction than ever before.”

Alongside the BMH training programme, CCS and the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity have launched the Construction Industry Helpline. This provides 24/7 advice on occupational health and wellbeing, emergency financial aid and support on legal, tax and debt management matters. So far over 400,000 contact cards have been distributed nationally to promote the helpline.

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