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Mental health first aiders star in campaign to change attitudes in the construction industry

Mental health first aiders working on London’s super sewer are stars of a new photography campaign highlighting the work they do to support colleagues across the project.

In line with its aim to transform attitudes to mental health in construction, the ‘I’m in your corner’ campaign coincides with ‘Time to Talk Day’ on 6 February.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 50. The construction industry has a higher suicide rate than any other occupation and Tideway is working hard to tackle this problem head on.

Tideway has trained 167 mental health first aiders, including Tideway CEO Andy Mitchell and the senior leadership team, on how to recognise if co-workers are struggling and ways to offer them support.

Jay, a crane operator at Tideway’s logistics site in Northfleet, Kent, has been on the project for three years and signed up to the programme as soon as he joined.

He said: “I’d been in the services before this, had seen friends suffering in silence and the impact this had on their own lives and their families. To then come into an organisation like Tideway where I could be actively involved in changing attitudes and helping others was a great opportunity.

“There is still stigma attached to talking about mental health within the industry and we need to try and break this down.”

Jay agreed to appear in the campaign which will run on social media and internal media channels because ‘it’s a great way to remind friends and colleagues that we are here if they need to talk. I’ve been in someone’s corner and I know I made a difference’.

The first aiders support each other with quarterly meetings and run a What’sApp group for over 80 members. It’s an open platform where scenarios and questions can be shared. Importantly they will often offer support one another when giving advice on sensitive and potentially life-changing issues.

Tideway is making positive steps in its commitment to improving attitudes and support for wellbeing in construction.

Steve Hails, Director of Business Services and Health, Safety & Wellbeing at Tideway added: “The benefits are wide reaching. ‘I’m in your corner’ is intended to showcase a culture where positive mental wellbeing is supported and encouraged as normal practice, both on and off the project.

“With the mental health first aider programme now in its third year, we are starting to see positive change. It won’t happen overnight but we are slowly breaking down the stigma of mental health in construction and hope this legacy can be carried forward to other projects in months and years to come.”

Tideway also supports Mates in Mind, a charity that aims to raise awareness, address the stigma of poor mental health and improve positive mental well-being in construction and related industries across the UK.

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