Upskilling Staff to Support their Mates, a Critical Construction Move

It’s incredibly concerning that each year 190 Australians working in the construction industry take their own lives – that’s a death every second day – and younger workers in this sector are more than twice as likely to take their own lives than other young Australian men.

Health and safety is an important pillar of our operations and as part of an industrywide initiative, Pindan began a partnership with MATES in Construction (MIC) late last year to educate and support staff and subcontractors about this important issue.

MATES in Construction is a national not-for-profit group that exists to prevent suicide by:

  • raising awareness of suicide as a preventable problem
  • helping build stronger, more resilient workers
  • connecting workers to the best available help; and
  • teaming up with researchers to inform industry about best mental health practice

Some key factors that may contribute to this worrying situation is the nature of the sector. As work is often highly transient and offered on a project-by-project basis, uncertainty can be an issue, as can a lack of social support. Other research shows construction industry workers find it difficult to discuss feelings and emotions with colleagues. Pride and male workers not wanting to be seen as not being ‘manly’ is also an issue.

Building on our values of safety, partnerships, integrity and family, and our ongoing commitment to providing a safe workplace, we are proactively training our staff to build their knowledge around suicide and mental health with the assistance of MATES in Construction.

So far, 6 out of 10 of our site-based and office-based team members have been upskilled in the three levels of training offered by MIC, and we’re continuing to grow these numbers. The education covers everything from helping workers identify mental health warning signs and intervening with understanding and confidence, to engaging staff in creating a mentally healthy workplace and training select team members to identify, support and connect workers to seek assistance. MIC also offers a support line and case management.

At Pindan we feel this investment of time to ensure our staff and subcontractors can support their mates to stay mentally well is critical.

As MIC is a recognised industry program that’s being increasingly embraced, we are also confident that subcontractors will be able to access the same level of best mental health practice support as they move to different sites and different employers, which not only boosts individual health but the long term future health of the industry.

We’re buoyed at the strong level of support we’re receiving on the ground from staff and subcontractors keen to undertake the training and are proud to be contributing to an industry wide program.

The heartbreaking impact of suicide on families and the wider community is significant and needs to be addressed. By banning together, we believe the construction industry can make a much-needed difference and we encourage other contractors and builders to get on board and actively involved with MIC.

Visit mates.org.au to learn more.

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