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World Mental Health Day: An expert’s advice to tackling mental health barriers in the workplace

Today is World Mental Health Day; a day that raises awareness and celebrates the progress made in understanding mental health on an international platform. The importance placed on understanding mental health has been increasing over the past decade and now the construction industry is starting to break down any stigma around this issue, encouraging people to talk about mental illness and share ways to seek help and support.

 

Talking about mental health was considered by some a sign of weakness or admitting defeat, and maybe this has been more so in the construction industry. But with initiatives like “Time to Change” and Mind UK these barriers are gradually being lowered and there is a greater opportunity within the sector to proactively identify the early signs and react accordingly.

At WSP we are not immune to the continually increasing demands of the construction industry with projects working to tighter deadlines and even tighter budgets. This can sometimes create a knock on effect for employees and those around them (in and out of work). We launched our Health & Wellbeing Survey at the beginning of September helping employees identify areas of self-improvement and ownership, as well as enabling us as a business to create a risk based strategy to support our employees and those they are in contact with.

Over the next week or so we will be analysing the data from the survey and utilising this to develop a focused Health & Wellbeing Strategy for the business as well as holding our Health & Wellbeing Day on October 24th, which will have the theme of Mental Health Awareness.

The demands of the construction industry will not necessarily disappear, but by giving our colleagues the skills, tools and support to empower themselves and others, we feel that WSP will be able to play our part in changing the attitudes and behaviours towards mental health, building resilience within our organisation, with the result of helping to improve employee wellbeing both for physical and psychological health.

Chris Hanson-Moring, health and wellbeing manager at WSP