"It’s okay to not be okay: we have rolled out mental health first aid training"

05 July 2017

If you had asked us five years ago if we would be openly talking about mental health at work, the look on people’s faces would have been something like this:

However, not only is our HR Manager, Nicola Rich, now a qualified Mental Health First Aid Trainer, but she has rolled out Mental Health First Aid training across the practice.

The first fourteen staff successfully completed their training earlier this month.

What is it?

Mental Health First Aid is a course that teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing or have a mental health issue. In the same way people learn physical first aid, Mental Health First Aid teaches people how to recognise those crucial early warning signs and signpost them to appropriate professional help.

Why is it important?

We asked Nicola why she feels it is so important to be open about Mental Health at work:

“Over the years we have become confused about what mental health is and why it is important. Our society’s portrayal of mental health in the past, in the media, on television, and in films leaves people with a warped sense of what it is to have a mental health issue.

To a large extent, people in the UK have felt unable to talk about their mental health for fear of stigma and discrimination. The difficulty is that we know stigma can lead to delays in people seeking the help they need.

According to MentalHealth.gov, Mental Health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, both at home and in work.

Anyone working in the construction industry knows only too well the pressures of the work. For example, heavy workloads, long hours, travel, project uncertainty, conflicting deadlines, difficult meetings, budget constraints. Any combination of these factors can potentially lead to mental ill health. It is a fallacy to think successful people do not suffer with mental health issues. We all do from time to time, it’s just few of us speak up about it.

Only last year the Health in Construction Leadership Group, supported by the British Safety Council, announced the launch of Mates in Mind – a sector-wide programme intended to help improve and promote positive mental health across the UK construction industry.

I am often asked by others ‘how did you get Board level buy in?’. I feel inclined to say it was a real struggle, but it wasn’t. The Directors do not just believe they have a legal duty of care to our workforce, but they also feel they have a moral one too, and at the end of the day it just makes good business sense to promote better wellbeing at work.

Our staff engagement levels in 2016 were in excess of 80%. Staff felt the company cared about them, not just inside of work, but outside too. This reputation makes a real difference when recruiting and retaining talented staff.

Our clients and suppliers like it too. Over the last month a number have called me to discuss how we might help them adopt a similar approach. I think it is important HR can add this kind of value and feel it maybe be quietly reassuring for people to know that the next time they see one of our talented Architects, Technicians, Technologists, Interior Designers, Planners or Building Surveyor’s on a construction-site, or in one of our buildings, it is possible that maybe a Mental Health First Aider too!”

Congratulations to our new Mental Health First Aiders:

• Thomas Sheehan – Associate Architect
• Richard Jessup – Building Surveyor
• Charlotte Harries – Office Manager
• Katherine Hatch – Senior Interior Designer
• Jennie Butler – Part 2 Architectural Assistant
• Gareth Brown – Senior Architect
• Sam Murray – Office Manager
• Nick Vanier – Technologist
• Amy Tunney – Office Manager
• Sarah Lee – Associate Architect
• Alison Knight – Office Manager
• Pete Badger – Associate Lead Sustainability Consultant
• Georgina Sinclair – Office Manager
• Marie Kille – Office Manager

If you or someone you know would like to find out more about how you can become a Mental Health First Aider or are interested to understand more Stride Treglown’s approach to wellbeing, please contact Nicola Rich. She would love to hear from you.

Contacts