Willmott Dixon has trained over 130 people, a fifth of its workforce, to become mental health first aiders on construction sites and in offices nationwide to support its All Safe Minds campaign.
Everyone on a Willmott Dixon project already receives a presentation on mental health in which they are made aware of the help available. The new Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) are being deployed to provide an additional network of support, encouraging its people and supply chain partners to seek help if they have existing problems or realise that they’re starting to struggle.
Willmott Dixon launched All Safe Minds in 2017 to provide awareness of mental health issues predominantly affecting young men across the construction sector. It has implemented a number of measures to encourage construction workers to seek help if they have problems, and also to recognise the signs in family, friends and colleagues who may be bottling things up.
The deployment of MHFAs coincides with April being officially Stress Awareness Month and also sees the second year of a national campaign “Stop. Make a Change.” in which construction companies are encouraged to focus on working together to build a healthier, safer industry.
Willmott Dixon’s Head of health, safety and environment, Mark French, explained: “We’ve invested in training to equip our army of MHFA volunteers with skills to deal with potentially fragile situations sensitively and effectively.“
Working with the acronym ALGEE, MHFAs are trained to:
- Approach; Assess for Crisis; Assist with Crisis
- Listen and communicate non-judgementally
- Give support and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage other supports
Campaign posters have been designed for display at every site and office to reinforce the key messages of the All Safe Minds initiative and to clearly show who the local MHFAs are for that particular site — making it as easy as possible for personnel to tap into the support if they need it.
Mark French continued: “Since the launch of All Safe Minds in 2017, momentum continues to build around the issue of mental health in our sector. Our Mental Health First Aiders are a significant step forward in offering our workforce the best possible chance at improved mental fitness, but not only that, they also represent the welcome change in culture that is gradually taking effect across our industry.
“The MHFAs are an important route to support and we hope that their presence onsite will eventually ‘normalise’ the subject of mental health so that it becomes a natural mind-set for men and women to seek help if they become overwhelmed by their own personal situation.”