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Top contractors get mental health first aid funding

24 May 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

Image: Dreamstime.com

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has set aside £500,000 to train a total of 156 construction workers as mental health first aid instructors.

The move is in a bid to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the British construction industry.

The funding has been awarded to Building Mental Health - a group of companies including Lendlease, Mace, Multiplex, Morgan Sindall and Laing O’Rourke - via CITB’s Flexible Fund.

Building Mental Health will work with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and use the funding to deliver 13 MHFA instructor courses for construction, with each course taking up to 12 candidates.

To become fully qualified, instructors are required to each deliver two MHFA courses that will in turn qualify on-site Mental Health First Aiders.

The aim is for there to be 156 construction MHFA instructors fully-trained and operating by September 2019, with a minimum of 2,500 on-site mental health first aiders to be trained by 2020.

The completed project will result in a minimum of 2,500 trained mental health first aiders in the construction industry.

However, it is estimated that an additional 40,000 mental health first aiders are needed to provide an adequate level of cover for the whole industry.

The first of the 13 courses started on 14 May, with the other 12 scheduled to take place over the next 18 months.

Geeta Nathan, head of economic analysis at CITB, said: “The mental health and wellbeing of construction workers is one of the biggest issues our industry is currently facing. In 2016/17, the sector lost 400,000 working days due to stress, anxiety or depression – the equivalent of losing 1,600 full time workers each year.

"Given the stigma this subject faces, it’s so important that we lead the way in shaping a culture change.

"Building Mental Health’s training initiative will see 156 construction workers becoming mental health first aid instructors, with those 156 instructors by the end of 2020 having trained a minimum of 2,500 mental health first aiders. This will have a hugely positive impact on mental health awareness not only in construction, but for individuals, families and communities across Great Britain."

Brian Van Campenhout, head of EHS at Lendlease said: “Having adopted the Building Mental Health Charter, Lendlease is working collaboratively across the whole of the construction industry to eradicate the stigma and impact associated with poor mental health that continues to blight many peoples’ lives. 

"It’s great news that Building Mental Health now has the CITB and Lighthouse as key industry partners supporting the framework.  It is vitally important that, collectively we all do something to improve the mental health and wellbeing of everyone that works in this great industry.  Let’s shoulder this moral responsibility and start making a difference today."

Phillip Howitt, HSEQ manager at concrete frame contractor Morrisroe, who will be traking part in the training, said: "I am delighted and highly motivated to be part of this first cohort of Mental Health First Aid Instructors for our industry and hugely grateful that my company and CITB have given me the opportunity to pioneer this vital change in culture within construction."

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