At ASF, we believe in creating a healthy and happy workplace for our retail and office refurbishment contractors. Our team are at the heart of everything we do.

Last October, we wrote about our support of the charity Mates in Minds and the importance of mental health in construction. Today we’d like to share how training, like the MHFA’s mental health course we attended, might help your company.
In 2017, the Office for National Statistics revealed that construction workers were at high risk of experiencing mental health issues. The government’s Thriving at Work report tells us the steps to take but it can be difficult to know where to start actioning these. Here are a few suggestions on how to use training in your mental health and wellbeing strategy.

 1. Create a training plan

There is no need for this to be a box ticking exercise. This is a great opportunity for open conversations on company culture and what training you might need to keep improving your work environment. We recommend you start with line manager training. Until your managers are bringing up the topic of mental health, you can’t begin to help the rest of your employees. Depending on budget, you may wish to offer the training to all staff or include a shorter version in your induction programme.

Whatever the scale, make sure to set clear objectives, milestones and ways of reviewing your plan.

2. Train staff to provide initial support 

Training is a great way to broaden your supervisors’ knowledge of mental health. The training ASF undertook covered topics such as depression in the workplace, anxiety disorders and cognitive distortions. Making your staff comfortable with terminology around mental health equips them to assist the teams they manage.  The new understanding also gives them ways to articulate fluctuations in their own mental health so they are able to set an example.

Knowing the risk factors and spotting the symptoms can empower managers to listen to their team. We learned on MHFA’s course that increased absenteeism, isolation from peers and a lack of self-confidence might be signs of mental health issues. More than this, training can help your staff develop listening skills and learn how to provide initial support. Training won’t make therapists of your managers but will equip them to guide staff towards support tools and ways of getting help.

4. Shout about the support you offer 

Create awareness about the mental health strand of your wellness strategy. The MHFA provide certificates and posters to advertise our mental health ‘first aiders’ in communal areas. This is so important for making your newly trained staff seem approachable to anyone struggling with mental health issues.

The conversation shouldn’t stop once the training is over. It’s a great idea to encourage staff to reflect on how they are feeling as part of regular catch ups and include mental health in any company updates on staff wellbeing.

To find out more about mental health first aid training, take a look at MHFA's courses.