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Mates in Mind welcomes the launch of the online Mental Health at Work gateway

Mates in Mind welcomes the launch of the online Mental Health at Work gateway and emphasises that changing workplace cultures requires ongoing leadership and hands-on-support.

The interaction between work and mental health is complex and sensitive, and remains a challenge for employers. Mates in Mind has, as an industry-partnered initiative launched a year ago, supported many firms create better understanding across the construction supply chain, and we are pleased to be able to support the ongoing work associated with the new Gateway announced earlier this week.

Evidence from a study into workplace wellbeing by the mental health charity Mind (2018) shows that lack of awareness remains a barrier to addressing the issue in work and greater awareness and practical training is a valuable investment. But as the research also found, those staff who felt their line manager supported their mental health were 11 times more likely to disclose a mental health problem, compared with those who did not, demonstrates how important it is to embed the change within a workplace.

Mates in Mind has already reached more than 150,000 workers in its first year by providing more than 150 supporter and partner construction and construction-related firms with tailored resources and support. Our approach helps all firms, irrespective of their scale and scope, to understand what mental wellbeing means for their workforce, gives them the knowledge to invest in the things that will make a difference and the confidence to know the improvements that they make will bring real and lasting change.   

Steve Hails, Chair of Mates in Mind and Health, Safety and Wellbeing Director, Tideway, a Mates in Mind Business Champion reflected on their journey over the last year:

“Mental ill-health has been on everyone’s agenda but in our industry, which is, despite our endeavours, male dominated, we are more susceptible than most. Thankfully, things are starting to change, but we still have some way to go. Putting the right kind of support in place was the start of the conversation for us, and for many others. Importantly this needs to happen across all levels of the business, and leadership is key. And in our industry, with the nature of the supply chain, it is important also that it’s about recognising that this responsibility is not just about regarding the welfare of our own staff. This is what makes Mates in Mind so special in that we are working collaboratively across the sector through various projects and works, building in the change we need throughout the supply chain.  After all, more than three quarters of those working in construction are employed by SMEs.”

Reflecting on Mates in Mind’s work, in which, as a programme of support often involves partnering with other charities such as Mind and Mental Health First Aid England, partners of the Mental Health at Work gateway, Joscelyne Shaw, Executive Director, Mates in Mind said:

Creating awareness and improving access to information is important. However, as we say when delivering mental wellbeing training ‘we are not the same’, in a similar way, no two organisations are either.

Our experience in working with our Business Champions and Supporters over the last year is that it is essential for an organisation to recognise it has its own story to tell, and that having the confidence to embark on this journey needs hands on support.

Our partnered approach empowers organisations to bring their story to life, making it real to its people, helping to embed the change more sustainably. In some instances, this change in approach has come about at great cost, and the people working in these organisations are determined that with this understanding, there is positive learning for everyone.”

Mates in Mind is a registered charity working in the UK that aims to provide clear information to employers on available support and guidance on mental health, mental illness and mental wellbeing, and how they can address this within their organisations. Mates in Mind looks to make sense of what options and support are available to employers wishing to promote improved mental health within their workforce.  

Mates in Mind is a collaboration of founding partners: Health in Construction Leadership Group and British Safety Council and is supported by core partner charities Mind, Samaritans, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and Inspire. It is also supported by construction industry charities and bodies and has various Mates in Mind business champions, including: Balfour Beatty; eight2O; Galliford Try; Mineral Products Association; RSE Group; Sellafield; Tarmac; and Tideway.  Quotes of support from these organisations are available on request. 

Mates in Mind was the result of a Health in Construction Leadership Group summit in early 2017 for construction industry CEOs and senior leaders who voted overwhelmingly to improve the mental wellbeing of its workforce. At an event in January 2017, Mates in Mind was launched and the pilot phase was started. Mates in Mind was featured in the Thriving at Work report published in October 2017.

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