Millcroft, the specialist in complex access and scaffolding projects, has delivered the first of a series of customer workshops on mental health, designed to extend the benefits of its in-house mental health training to customers.
Held in Millcroft’s purpose-built training centre, the workshop was delivered by the company’s health & safety manager, Mike Wright. It was structured as an interactive session, designed to encourage knowledge sharing and new ideas for tackling mental health in the construction sector. Delegates attended from across Millcroft’s customer base, including construction contractors ISG, Skanska and Knight Harwood, manufacturer Tate & Lyle, Transport for London (TfL) and the National Access & Scaffolding Confederation (NASC).
Billy Jones, director at Millcroft explains: “Mental health is an endemic problem in the construction sector, with two construction workers taking their own life every day in the UK. Our industry often involves stressful and physically demanding jobs in a pressurised environment, and it can be difficult to spot the symptoms of poor mental health in yourself or others.
“Earlier this year we embarked on a training programme for our own team to help us tackle this issue as a business and the whole company has been involved; from our design engineers through to site personnel. The initiative has been an eye-opener, both in terms of how many people have experienced poor mental health in their own lives or amongst their friends and family connections, and in terms of how much they welcomed the training.
“It was this positive response that led us to schedule the customer workshops and we’re delighted that they’ve had the same impact.”
Like the Millcroft staff training, the customer mental health workshop focused on raising awareness of common mental health conditions, their symptoms and the strategies people often use to mask their struggles in the workplace. Delegates were encouraged to share their own experiences and tips for dealing with stress and anxiety. The session also included how to approach recognising symptoms in others and supporting them in seeking help.
Billy continues: “Most of the delegates work in a safety role and have already had some training in mental health but it’s extraordinary to see how people engage with the subject in a workshop setting that allows them to draw on personal experience. For example, one of the topics we covered was the cycle of insomnia, stress, anxiety and low mood and delegates were able to share practical advice for breaking the pattern of sleeplessness.”
Following the success of the first customer workshop, Millcroft has already scheduled a further two sessions. Meanwhile, the company’s in-house mental health training programme is on-going and mental health champions have been appointed as a first line of support for affected members of the team.
“We’ve all seen the mental health awareness campaigns and read articles about mental health issues in the media,” adds Stephen Allen-Tidy, a workshop delegate from NASC “but bringing those issues down to a personal level in a safe environment with colleagues who all face the same challenges with their workplace teams has real value. Millcroft is doing a great job of helping people see beyond the condition to the practical steps that can be taken to support people.”