Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

June 21, 2016

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Mental health at SHExpo: Mates in Construction

m coyd1

Construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than from a fall from height, with reports showing that one worker is dying every two days from suicide.

Martin Coyd, Lend Lease, began his talk on mental health initiative Mates in Construction, which began in Australia and is coming to the UK this summer, talking about a case of suicide in rugby league.

Martin compared rugby league to construction with the pressures to perform, a macho culture and the feelings of distress and lack of self-worth workers often feel.

Unknown to many, suicide is actually the biggest killer in 16-25 year old men with 5,891 people committing suicide in 2012 and 6,122 in 2014. The problem is on the rise.

State of Mind was set up in rugby league to help support players struggling with these sorts of pressures and now the scheme is being shared across other sports.

In construction, the Mates in Construction suicide prevention organisation now wants to open up the dialogue about mental health in construction.

m coyd 2

Martin discussed how construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than from a fall from height, with reports showing that one worker is dying every two days from suicide. However the amount spent on fall prevention and the amount spent on suicide prevention are vastly different.

In Ireland 49% of suicides are from within construction, showing just how serious the numbers are in this industry.

Mental wellbeing can be described simply as the way I feel, the way I think and my sense of belonging

So why is the problem so big in construction? Martin talked about a history of men masking their feelings, finding it incredibly hard to be honest about low mood. Feelings like this are often masked with drink and drugs, Martin said.

“We can’t all be at our best all the time physically and it’s the same mentally” said Martin.

“The problem is going to get worse before it gets better but it’s time to start the conversation and get people understanding mental health”.

The Health in Construction Leadership Group of which Martin is a key player, who are meeting at this year’s conference, looked at what mental health actually is and created an integrated health model, helping to promote healthy lifestyle choices.

The group aims to have a new industry approach to mental health where people can be more open in offering and seeking help for mental health issues.

Martin spoke of the reactions most people have to someone who is physically ill or hurt, running towards them and getting them help. When someone is suffering mental ill health, people can often react in the opposite way.

So what are Mates in Construction doing? Martin talked about the three levels of training in MIC, from one hour inductions, to three hour courses, to three day suicide prevention training.

The aim of the group is to raise awareness, engage the industry and bring people together to help open discussions about mental health and suicide prevention.

Speaking to SHP martin said: “MIC will be launched this summer, it is a wonderful opportunity for the whole industry to come together, reduce stigma, and make a difference to millions of people’s lives.

“This is THE industry, the built environment, we are the backbone of the country. I am proud to be a part of it and we have a real chance to make a huge difference”.

Visit the occupational health theatre for more great talks.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments