The daily pursuit for mental wellbeing is a continual endeavour for all of us, and for Barry Major, Tideway’s Deputy Head of Health and Safety at Kirtling Street, it’s a quest that has a deep personal and professional significance.
This month Barry is one of several volunteers appearing in a campaign that highlights the project’s commitment to supporting those with mental health problems, and the benefits that are gained by seeking help. He is one of Tideway’s mental health first aiders, who can be seen as part of the “I’m in you corner” campaign to promote awareness and change attitudes towards mental health in the construction industry.
As a senior health and safety professional it’s certainly a role that falls within his professional remit, but his reasons for being involved stem from his own experience of the damaging effects that keeping silent can have.
Back in 2006 Barry was working on a site where a fellow worker was involved in an accident. At that time there was little support available and the stigma of talking about mental health was even greater, especially in construction.
It was through the lens of this incident that Barry saw how his colleagues’ struggles were left largely undiscovered, or even ignored, and the strain this had on their mental welfare. He saw first-hand the ensuing negative effects refusing to talk about what they were going through then had on his colleague’s family life.
Following the accident, Barry has become an advocate for mental health support in the industry and is dedicated to learning as much as he can about how to help those around him. “We’re not going to change the industry overnight,” says Barry “but we have the opportunity to change. I learn more from everyone I speak to…while [each] case is different the listening is always the same.”
Barry has also experienced the effects a lack of communication can have in his own life. He knows how crucial it is to be able to recognise signs people might be struggling with their mental wellbeing and be able to address these issues at the very moment they arise.
“In my next role I want to take what I have learnt and be an influence in raising awareness of mental well-being from the very beginning. Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there’.