Why Are We Supporting Mental Health?
By Susan Hughes – Human Resources Manager
At Morris & Spottiswood, safety is our number one priority; which aligns to our values of Aim High, Act Responsibly and Value People. In the construction industry, physical health and safety is already taken extremely seriously. At a time where suicide kills more people in the construction industry than falls from height, it is only right that mental health and safety is given the same level of attention. As a result, we have made significant investment into mental health support to provide the same level of protection to our workforce.
Construction can be a rewarding and varied industry to work in. But it’s also one where pressures can be high, and people can be more likely than average to experience work-related stress and other mental health issues. Demanding working hours, working away from home, and deadline driven work can place pressure on our people. We also work in an industry that is male dominated. The “tough guy” image means asking for help and opening up about emotions don’t always come naturally.
To tackle this, we recognised that leaders and managers play a vital role in reducing the stigma of mental health in our workplace. Our goal was to ensure our teams feel confident and assured that they can 'open-up' when they may feel that they are struggling. We have utilised various communications and initiatives to promote mental health. These include communication around key mental health events, emails, posters and toolbox talks. Additionally, as well as the 53 employees trained as Mental Health First Aiders, a further 120 staff have received mental health awareness training in the last year. There is further Mental Health First Aid training scheduled for the new year.
We are proud to be working with Mates in Mind - a charity dedicated to promoting positive mental wellbeing in construction. As part of our overall Wellbeing plan, we are establishing a Wellbeing Working group to focus on the key challenges in our business; our culture, internal communications, stress at work and building resilience. This group consists of senior leaders and manager across our business. It’s important that our employees believe we have a sincere interest in their wellbeing. That we talk the talk and walk the walk with mental health and wellbeing support across our business. This is not about a poster campaign to make us look good externally, we will drive an ongoing campaign to ensure all of our employees feel they can raise issues at any time and lean on our managers for support.
We want to continue our drive to site-based teams, ensuring mental health is a regular feature in toolbox talks. Further training is planned for our Supervisors on site to ensure we have a cross-section of our business training in listening and signposting mental health support. We are routinely monitoring employee mental health and wellbeing via employee surveys and absence monitoring, continually look at ways to provide a positive working environment. This is most definitely a journey to developing better mental health in our business, but we feel confident we are on the right path to supporting our employees.