Supporting Mental Health in Construction - conference 16th May 2019

Today two construction workers will take their own lives. Male site workers are three times more likely to take their own lives than the average UK male. These shocking statistics have led the Exelin Group (Exelin, SWMAS including the Somerset Energy Innovation Centre, and Hinkley Basecamp) to join a group of local businesses and trade federations in hosting Somerset’s first Mental Health in Construction Conference. The conference will be held in Bridgwater on Thursday 16th May, to coincide with National Mental Health Awareness Week.

This conference aims to raise awareness within the construction industry locally and to encourage a mental health programme which drives a culture of speaking up. The conference will bring together people working in construction, mental health and local community support to share experiences and explore ways of making small changes that make big differences. The organisers hope that everyone who attends the conference will sign the ‘Building Mental Health Charter’.

One of the guest speakers on the day will be Bill Hill CEO of The Lighthouse Club which provides financial and emotional support including a helpline, to the construction community and their families. Watch the video and hear Bill Hill talk about how dangerous the construction is as a place to work and the fact that 1/5 of the construction workforce at any one time is off because of stress, anxiety or depression. With two construction workers taking their lives every day, Bill explains how we have to, and can do, something to ensure the mental health of the construction workforce.

Another speaker is Martyn Coyd, OBE, head of health and safety at Construction Health and Safety UK, who is also head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing at Mace Construction. He spent 18 years in the Royal Engineers and now has a leading role in the UK’s Building Mental Health Framework. As well as speakers, there will be workshops and an appearance by the Bridgwater Voices Community Choir.

Jackie Forsey, one of the organisers who works for a mid-Somerset building company says, “Contractors cannot afford to ignore this issue, where ten times the number of construction workers die from suicide than from accidents at work. Our own business has suffered this type of loss in the past and it had a devastating effect on both the workforce and the company as a whole. We need to start talking about stress, depression and anxiety in order to help those in our industry who are suffering with these conditions. I would encourage everyone in the construction industry in Somerset to attend the conference in order to better understand mental health issues and enable these conversations to start”.

The conference working party consists of: Becky Wright – New Leaf Life Design, National Federation of Builders, Hannah Ranby – Bridgwater & Taunton College, Jackie Forsey – Somerset Construction Training Group, Sam Evans – Somerset Chamber, Lynda Wookey – Exelin Group.