Time to Change?
“Construction employs more than three million people and is traditionally thought of as the male, macho industry, where mental health is still stigmatised and people should “just keep their problems to themselves.” It is no surprise in some respects, that talking about mental health is still taboo and it will take time to break down these barriers.
The good news is we have started to break down those barriers.
For the first part of 2017, the construction press as well as the mainstream media has highlighted Mental Health awareness.
According to recent press reports, around 250 construction workers take their own lives, every year, mainly males. This is 250 too many. It led me to think about what more we can do. I feel we all have a part to play to breakdown any stigma or barrier in attitudes and we must continue every day, to encourage people to talk about mental health, openly.
At Osborne we have been working closely with the mental health charity Mind, to carry out a review and develop an Action Plan. This Plan will allow us to sign the “Time to Change” Pledge. This is a senior management commitment to de-stigmatising and raising awareness of mental health in the workplace.
Spotting the signs early
We should think about our meetings, one to ones or appraisals starting with “how are you feeling” rather than “we have got to hit these targets today”. This way we can listen to our people and understand if our people are happy, healthy and engaged. We, as managers, may also be able to spot any problems and assist rather than let them become issues.
Keeping it on the agenda
This mustn’t be a flash in the pan. I spoke earlier in the year about the need to destigmatise mental health in the industry. There are many misunderstandings surrounding mental health, (the invisible illness), so people have been afraid to talk about it or ask for help. Thankfully, this appears to be changing and people now feel able to start to ask for help from their employers, so we must continue to keep this on the agenda.
In my role, I will continue to help create a safe space for our people to talk about any issues and for us to listen.
What are you going to do?”
Jay Johnston is the Head of SHE (Safety, Health and Environment) at Osborne. Jay and his Deputy Head of SHE, Peter Jones will be talking about Mental Health at the Safety and Health Expo at the ExCel in London on Thursday 22 June 2017.