Figures show one-in-six construction-based workers suffers from a form of mental illness. Even more alarming is the statistic that reveals suicide kills more people in the building sector than falls from height. It’s also reported that two construction workers reportedly take their own life each day. Such distressing data highlights the urgent need for roofing companies and the industry as a whole to educate employees and ensure they have the best possible support in order to recognise mental stress symptoms in themselves and colleagues. In doing so, they will be taking a vital first step to making a full recovery from the debilitating effects of anxiety and depression.
As a company, BriggsAmasco is facilitating an environment that encourages, where reasonably possible, improved mental health amongst employees. This journey began in 2017 when a workshop was staged as part of the company’s annual Health and Safety forum. It was held on behalf of contract-related staff and subcontractors in order to steer individuals seeking guidance towards the appropriate mental health support.
Feedback from employees who attended the workshop was extremely positive. This was particularly encouraging, as BriggsAmasco aims to create an environment and culture where staff feel comfortable discussing their psychological state, whether it is good or bad. Employers should take into account the fact that not all workers feel comfortable raising such issues with their manager, whereas others will view it as the best avenue to getting help.
Listening to workers and addressing their specific needs is vital. Any staff member that is not comfortable speaking to a BriggsAmasco representative has access to the company’s Employee Assistance Programme that is 100% confidential and deals with anything from mental health issues to financial or legal problems they may be experiencing. New employees are issued with information cards, highlighting external organisations – The Lighthouse Club, Building Mental Health – which provide support to the construction community and their families.
Mental health initiative
BriggsAmasco hosts each new employee at its Birmingham head office for a two-day induction that includes a presentation and discussion on its mental health strategy, devised to ensure each employee has access to at least one mental health first aider on site and within its offices. Two members of BriggsAmasco staff are Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trained and available to deliver the courses throughout the business.
Since March 2019, the company has trained 35 staff as mental health first aiders; a figure that will increase in the following year. The company’s board of directors will also undergo training in mental health awareness to help continue open conversations across the company, as proof of how seriously it takes its staff’s psychological welfare.
Mental illness has long been considered something of a taboo subject within the building industry. By bringing the issue to light through its education and training initiatives, BriggsAmasco is doing all it can to safeguard its employees’ peace of mind.
By Steph Palmer, BriggsAmasco Training Officer