Mental health is an issue that, directly or indirectly, is likely to affect most of us during our lives. But, unlike many physical illnesses, mental health problems are often invisible to others and don’t get the attention they deserve.
At Codelocks we were very aware that during lockdown, with staff working from home, the situation was exacerbated. Some employees suffered from a feeling of remoteness and lack of engagement with the outside world. And, when you’re only communicating via Teams and Zoom meetings, it can be harder for colleagues to spot the signs of mental struggle, or for individuals to open up about their feelings.
I wanted to put stronger measures in place at Codelocks to protect our employees’ mental health, so I welcomed the opportunity to attend a talk from the Lighthouse Club at a the GAI members day. The Lighthouse Club provides emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing support to construction workers and their families and offers mental health first aid training to GAI members.
The talk from Lighthouse Club team gave me some great ideas of how to put in place measures to support mental health. One of the first things we’ve done is create a clearly defined mental health policy and made sure that everyone understands it. I want our employees to know that we take their mental health seriously, and to feel safe and secure in coming forward if they are struggling. And I also want to have clear policies in place so that employees understand what counts as a mental health issue – including a specific policy around the menopause, which is often overlooked.
Even the strongest minded people can suffer from mental health issues. None of us are immune. To support the Codelocks team I am pleased to say we’ve taken the Lighthouse Club up on its mental health first aid training courses – just one of the GAI member benefits. We have booked two staff members onto the training, a flexible, two-day online course which delivers:
- An in-depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing
- Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
- Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
- Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
- Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support .
I feel that having people within the company that are sensitive to mental health issues and confident in being able to deal with them is a part of our responsibility as an employer. The training is free, but we’ve made a donation, as the Lighthouse Club is a charity, and receives no public funding.
Membership of Lighthouse Club is just one of the benefits of being part of the GAI. Besides the CPD training and technical updates, GAI Business Services offers help with HR, legal health and safety and tax issues that are worth the membership alone. For me, the Lighthouse Club membership is one of the best examples of how the GAI is working to support its members – by shining a light on the serious issue of mental health in the industry. n
Colin Campbell is managing director of Codelocks.