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The event was hosted by Ground Engineering magazine and set out to discuss how the needs of employees in the industry sector can be better supported.
It also considered the impact of mental health issues on the wider construction industry and examined gaps in support for those needing help.
The panel members also discussed their personal reasons for advocating better mental health support and the actions business leaders should take to improve mental wellbeing among employees.
RL Cares was represented by our Health Project Manager Wendy Barr, who helps lead the charity’s mental fitness initiative Offload, which recently received funding from Movember to enable it to be delivered to men working in the construction industry.
“We’ve run the Offload programme with some construction companies already and the feedback was fantastic,” said Wendy. “There’s still a big hill to climb in tackling mental health in the construction industry and if we can play a small part in it, then that’s great.”
The round table discussion featured contributions from many areas of the engineering and construction industry, including Paul McCann of Dunelm Geotechnical & Environmental UK and overseas operations director and British Drilling Association chair.
McMann agreed that the industry has increased its awareness of mental health issues.
But he believes it still has a long way to go to provide meaningful mental health support to staff. Often, he says, the only type of permanent support offered to employees on construction sites is a phone number pinned to a noticeboard or handed out in a leaflet.
“That would be one of the last things that I would feel that I could do – to pick up that phone on a site and identify myself,” he reflected.
Mott MacDonald technical director of engineering geology, Jim Gelder has suffered from depression for a number of years. He said that real support was about “finding opportunities to engage with people.”
Gelder suggested one way of opening a conversation about mental health with employees could be to include questions that invite employees to share their feelings during a short presentation to the workforce. This could take place during the morning toolbox talk.
“If you think about how safety has come on in the last 30 years, the toolbox talk is integral to that because it’s your chance as management to really push the messages that you want to push through to the workforce.
“So, you could just have one line in the toolbox talk that says, how’s the weather in your head today?”
Concept Engineering Consultants business development and process manager Dave Cage, who has also struggled with poor mental health, noted that tools such as toolbox talks, phone numbers and mental health first aiders are important.
However, he said that “the only thing that turns those from being just a tick box exercise that some companies do to something meaningful is changing the culture”.
“It’s a much bigger challenge to actually improve the culture of a company rather than to just put the tools in place.
“And that’s where we need to be investing most of our time,” he added.
To read more about the conversations on mental health in construction and drilling at the Ground Engineering round table event click here
If you are involved in a construction company and would like to know more about how Offload can help your colleagues benefit become and stay mentally fit, please contact our Partnerships Manager Nav Uppal – firstname.lastname@example.org
In a fascinating interview on the BBC 5 Live rugby league podcast, Sir Lindsay, the Speaker of the House of Commons, talks about the work of RL Cares and the role the charity plays in safeguarding the mental wellbeing of the sport’s players.
Speaking to BBC rugby league correspondent Dave Woods, Sir Lindsay, the MP for Chorley and a lifelong Warrington fan, outlines why he is so passionate about the sport and its communities.
“Rugby league is a family, a family which cares about itself and that’s the way it should be,” said Sir Lindsay.
“It’s about the health and wellbeing of people involved in the game. The players are tough, hard people but mental health affects every level of society and I’ve got to say that Rugby League (Cares) recognised that early.
“They have put support in place and they’ve been there to help players who’ve needed it.
“There’s a lot of pressure put on people playing the game, both professionally and at amateur level, and I’ve got to say that’s why rugby league is good.
“It’s the coming together of the family, the setting up of the charity (RL Cares), having a support network in there and training people who can look for the signs of mental health and having a champion within each club as well.
“We have the same (issues) in Parliament with mental health and that’s why I have beefed up and put together a health and wellbeing package, not only with (physical) illness but with mental health.
“Politicians don’t want to talk about mental health, they don’t ask for help and support, and it’s the same with staff as well.
“I had seen what rugby league had done, I’d seen Rugby League Cares and I wanted to make sure Parliament cares in the same way for the people who work in this village.”
To listen to the full BBC 5 Live podcast, click here
From next month, RL Cares and the Hull FC Community Foundation will work together on a pilot project that will deliver six free Offload ‘fixtures’ at the club’s Community Hub at the MKM Stadium to men aged 16 and over.
Hull FC Foundation will be running Offload fixtures on six consecutive Thursday evenings from October on a range of important themes, including stress and coping, building a positive mindset, analysing negative thinking and building resilience.
The hour-long fixtures will be led by RL Cares’ mental health ambassadors, who are all ex-professional players who are trained to use their own life experiences to help participants.
Offload squad members can participate as often or as little as they feel comfortable with. The fixtures are delivered in a ‘no-pressure’ situation and all information shared at fixtures is treated in strictest confidence within each squad.
James Price, Head of the Hull FC Community Foundation, said: “It is a real privilege to have the opportunity to collaborate with Offload, who can hopefully make a difference to Hull FC fans who may be struggling or unsure about their mental wellbeing.
“It goes without saying that the last year and a half has been challenging for us in more ways than one, so it is fantastic that we can partner up with Offload to help local men deal with some of the issues they may be facing.
“A whole host of clubs are already involved with Offload, so it is pleasing that Hull FC can get on board with the fantastic project.”
More than 4,000 men have already taken part in Offload to learn the tools and techniques needed to enjoy good mental wellbeing. Offload is already being delivered at nine professional Rugby League clubs; Bradford Bulls, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax Panthers, Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos, St Helens, Salford Red Devils, Warrington Wolves and Widnes Vikings.
RL Cares Head of Community Emma Goldsmith said: “We are thrilled to be able to deliver Offload fixtures at Hull FC and are looking forward to making the same positive difference to the lives of Hull FC fans as we have seen at the other clubs.
“Offload has a fantastic ability to not just change lives, but to save lives as well. I’m sure all the men who sign up to Offload at Hull will enjoy taking part.
“We know that lots of men in Rugby League communities are struggling in these very challenging times and Offload can help equip them with the techniques and skills needed to develop and maintain good mental wellbeing.”
To sign up for Offload at Hull FC, or for more information, please email Hull FC legend and RL Cares Offload ambassador Lee Crooks, email@example.com
Offload is a clinically-designed mental wellbeing initiative that equips participants with the tools and techniques needed to build and maintain a winning mindset.
Presented by a team of former professional sportsmen who share their experiences of tackling challenging situations in their own lives, Offload has had a transformational impact on the lives of thousands of men since its launch four years ago.
Logi-tek have nearly 20 years of experience delivering customised and complex solutions – spanning a wide range of sectors and projects including trading floors, data centres, pharmaceutical, laboratories an office fit out.
Logi-tek have contracted RL Cares to deliver three virtual Offload ‘fixtures’ to its staff during April and May as part of a commitment to safeguarding their mental health.
The issues covered include coping with stress, building resilience and how to acquire a positive mindset.
RL Cares’ Community and Welfare Manager Keith Senior, the ex-Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain international centre, said: “It’s been a pleasure to deliver Offload fixtures to Logi-tek staff, who have all been very receptive to the tips and advice we’ve shared so far.
“It’s fantastic that a progressive company such as Logi-tek recognises both the importance of protecting the mental fitness of its staff and the success of Offload and Rugby League Cares.”
Chris Dodd, Logi-tek’s Commercial Director EMEA, said: “One of the core objectives for Logi-tek is to ensure that, in delivering the highest quality of services to our clients, our team are aware of potential mental health challenges arising in any working environment.
“COVID-19 has focused many people on the need to be ever more mindful of mental health and the Offload programme delivered by Rugby League Cares allow us to encourage the team to look out for themselves, one another and the people with whom we work each day.”
Offload was recently hailed as a “model of best practice” for engaging with people on issues around mental wellbeing in a report produced by academics at Edge Hill University.
The programme is currently being delivered at nine professional Rugby League clubs across the north of England, as well as a handful of leading companies including the Environment Agency, SSE, the Co-operative and Logi-tek.
For more information on Offload please click here
If you are interested in how Offload can make your employees healthier, happier and more productive, please email our Head of Community, Emma Goldsmith, firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on Logi-tek and the services the business offers, please click here