Seddon mental health push after worker suicide
Construction and property services company Seddon has launched an initiative to build awareness of mental wellbeing, following the suicide of a young employee.
Jordan Bibby, a painter and decorator who worked for the Bolton-based property services firm, was just 25 when he took his own life in September 2017.
Figures show that young male construction workers are more likely to commit suicide than any other profession.
In response to the tragedy, Seddon has started 'Jordan's conversation', an educational presentation on mental health and well-being, which is being launched and delivered across Seddon's live construction sites and four offices in the North West and Midlands.
The initiative aims to encourage more openness about mental health and will discuss how employees can recognise and seek help for their own mental health issues, as well as how to spot it and a colleague.
All 700 employees of the firm have been involved, as well as the 400 subcontractor team members on its sites.
The initiative has been set up with industry charity Mates in Mind, which aims to raise awareness and address the stigma of poor mental health in the UK construction industry.
Alongside it, Seddon has also set up an employee assistance programme, run by employer insurer Aviva - Care First, to provide support services and access to counselling, with a 24-hour confidential external hotline.
Jordan's mother Melanie said: "The last thing I said to Jordan was ‘I love you,’ on Monday evening. On Wednesday, I was told he had passed away. None of the words made sense; I knew what they meant, but they didn’t fit together in the sentence. I didn’t understand how they could be about my son, someone so loving and fearless and full of life.
"I would give anything to get him back, my own life for his, but I know that’s not possible. What I can do is share our story, talk about it and let other people know that, in their darkest moments, there is always someone willing to listen and help. We don’t close doors in our house, we don’t hide Jordan’s passing, we talk about him, we celebrate his life and we are strong for him, because if he saw us hurting he would never find peace."
Nicola Hodkinson, director of business services at Seddon and fourth generation member of the Seddon family, said: “We’re a business with family values at its core and our people are very important to us so news of Jordan’s death last year deeply affected all of the team here.
“Since that tragic event, we have thought long and hard about how we can create an environment where our people feel able to speak out if they are suffering and how to ensure everyone in the business looks out for each other’s mental well-being.
“Poor mental health is on everyone’s agenda but as a male-dominated industry we are more susceptible than most. Jordan’s Conversation is a key first step in our mission to achieve our aim and the start of a much more open and supportive approach to mental health at all levels of the business.”
Melanie Bibby added: "Jordan’s Conversation is such a vital initiative; I felt I had no option but to get involved, to help; it’s what Jordan would have wanted. We need to get men especially to open up about how they feel.
"We need to let them know that no one is bullet proof and that it’s OK to need help and we need to encourage them to reach out for support. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like Jordan must have felt, like they couldn’t carry on."
Research commissioned by Public Health England last year found that there were more suicides in construction than in any other profession in the five years to the end of 2015.
The figures, which cover people in England aged between 20 and 64, showed there were 1,419 suicides in construction and building trades from 2011 to 2015 - 1,409 were men and 10 were women.
For more information on how to spot signs of depression among construction workers, click here.