Mental health programme ‘surpasses expectations’

BUILDING Mental Health, the CITB and the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity have published a report detailing the social value of their initiative to train dedicated mental health first aid instructors in the construction industry.

The Mental Health First Aid Instructors Programme has provided training to more than 280 instructors and over 5,000 mental health first aiders. The social value report shows that for every £1 invested, there has been £5.50 of social value to society. This is despite the pandemic-related challenges, which meant the programme had to be extended by a year.

The initiative achieved 99% of its target for training instructors and 166% of its target for training Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) to operate in the industry.

‘Building Mental Health’ was launched by construction industry leaders and experts in 2018 in response to findings published the previous year in the ‘Thriving at Work’, Stevenson/Farmer review of mental health and employers. Commissioned by the UK Government, the report looked into how employers could provide better support.

One of the key objectives was to provide companies with a portal of ‘free and easily accessible’ information to help them develop a positive mental health culture. Contributions from across the industry are said to have ensured that an ‘array of comprehensive support and expert guidance’ was easily accessible. The programme also includes a 5-step framework to better mental health.

A specific training project was created and managed by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and funded with £1 million from the CITB in May 2018 to deliver a programme of construction-based instructor courses.

The report shows expectations have been surpassed, with 284 Mental Health First Aid Instructors having been trained. Those instructors have delivered training to 5,318 Mental Health First Aiders, while 3,349 mental health awareness courses have taken place.

Deborah Madden, CITB engagement director, said, “This project has outstripped expectations by helping to train over 5,000 mental health first aiders. Their impact will be enormous, providing vital support to people when they need it most. Mental health and wellbeing in construction is a large and complex issue that won’t be tackled overnight, but this project is an important step in the right direction.”

Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, added, “As one of the founder members of Building Mental Health we are delighted by the social value this training programme has delivered and we now have another 5000 front line mental health first aiders. The report cites that the instructors trained are under no illusion that the industry still remains much closer to the start of the journey towards de-stigmatising poor mental health than the end, but there are extremely positive outcomes so far. Together, we have been able to offer a fresh, industry-wide approach to ensure mental health support is available for all and to drive a more inclusive and caring cultural change in our industry for this generation and the next.”