Being a Mental Health First Aider

“Almost ten years ago, my Director at the time, started talking about mental health resilience and mental health in the work place.  Working in Construction, talking about mental health was a very new concept.

Some mental health awareness sessions were running at work and after dealing with my own life’s ups and downs I wanted to know more and booked myself on the next session.  Following this, I soon became a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) with an aim to help break down barriers and get people talking about their own mental health.  Back then, discovering the shocking suicide rate statistics for construction workers proved to me how important removing discrimination around mental health was.

Mental health training is becoming more widespread across the construction industry. When  I am training others on the course, it is nice to see how many people have chosen to become a MHFA and  I realise how the industry changing, making it acceptable for all of us to talk about our mental health.

We are beginning to acknowledge that we all have mental health, be it good or bad, just like physical health.  We are learning the signs and symptoms to look out for, enabling us to confidently give colleagues the right support where needed.

A couple of things I always say to those becoming a MHFA, is never underestimate the simple question ‘how are you?’ Meaning it and being prepared to listen to the answer, could, without even knowing it, change someone’s day.  Finally,  never underestimate how helping someone else can impact you.  Knowing and understanding your own mental health is vital.

We can make a huge difference to an already amazing industry by supporting each other.  It does not matter who they are or what their role is, it is ok to ask someone how they are doing ”

by Emma Bentley, SHE Manager at Osborne.