Health summit: ‘We need to think about health and take action’
The annual Health in Construction Leadership Group’s summit concluded last month, but here at Burton Recruiting, we are still working through some of the innovative concepts discussed by keynote speakers. The SHP provided some interesting analysis of the summit, some of which we would like to share with you now.
While 2.2million working days are lost each year to health and safety failings, 1.8 million of those lost are because of ill health. While it is difficult to prevent the spread of the winter cold, there are many ways that businesses can better protect the health of their employees. Generally speaking, health has “lagged behind safety, primarily because it’s more complex” and typically more of a private affair. However, companies who take health and safety by the horns are sure to feel the benefits.
Chair of the HSE, Martin Temple explains: “More sickness absence means less people, and less people means less productivity. We can’t afford this. We all need to recognise the collective responsibility business leaders have to health. It cannot remain the poor relation to safety. We need to think health and take action.”
Mental health took centre stage at this year’s event. As one of the core topics, speakers, such as Lee Rowland, a carpenter by trade, spoke to the audience about his experience of living with anxiety, depression and confidence issues. He detailed his story from first developing the illness aged 14, through his adopted faulty coping mechanisms to finally plucking up the courage to talk to his site-manager. After a year of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), he was able to come off of medication.
Lee, like most people suffering from mental health issues, comments that the turning point for him was the moment he asked for help. Given the detrimental cuts being imposed on the mental health services across the UK, the role of the manager is more important than ever. The journey towards wellness comes not in the first therapy session, but in the moment the individual is brave enough to ask for help. He concluded by stating that while “depression will always be a part of [his] life, it will not define [him]”.
Mates in mind
Acting on the mental wellness theme, the summit also acted as the launch pad for the industry’s mental health programme, Mates in Mind. The charity hopes to help 100,000 people in the construction industry in its first year and will offer courses in awareness, first aid and supervisor training. Moreover, support systems will be put in place to make the journey that little bit easier.
The programme has already been implemented in five organisations, these include Heathrow, Tideway and Willmott Dixon, and include training courses with Mental Health First Aid England, mental health charity Mind and the British Safety Council.
As Michael Whitmore and Mike Robinson, speakers on behalf of the charity, commented: “Mates in Mind aims to get the construction industry talking, it aims to drive through a culture change in mental health with our partnerships with Mind and Mental Health First Aid England.”
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