The British Safety Council launches mental wellbeing videos

AHEAD of Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May), it is still true to say that mental health is considered the poor relation of physical health. Too many people are suffering in silence while at work.

The British Safety Council is urging employers to make changes in the workplace that address mental wellbeing and is offering employees practical tools to help them deal with stress and anxiety at work.

The charity is launching three videos to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week. They are based on tried-and-tested wellbeing techniques and exercises that encourage staff to relax in order to alleviate racing thoughts associated with stress and anxiety. They also encourage physical activity at work.

Matthew Holder, Head of Campaigns at the British Safety Council, said: “Emotional resilience is important because it improves effectiveness at work. However, it also helps people gain greater immunity from certain illnesses. By making these exercises part of their daily routine, employees should be able to improve their wellbeing and resilience to stress.”

A breathing exercise aims to control stress and anxiety with the help of breathing, by slowing the overall activity of the brain and relaxing both the mind and the body.

A visualisation exercise is intended to release tension and improve concentration. Visualisation exercises combined with deep breathing are proven to reduce stress and relax the body, giving the person a moment of peace in the hectic work environment.

Chair exercises include shoulder, leg, feet and stomach exercises for relaxing various parts of the body that stiffen and ache as we spend long periods of time at our desks. The modern sedentary lifestyle is responsible for an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and a loss of muscle and bone strength.

Matthew Holder continued: “The British Safety Council’s wellbeing videos are intended as a practical resource to help employees look after their wellbeing and deal with the pressures of everyday working life. We hope that they will become a part of the lunchtime routine, accessed in bite-size chunks and used when required.

“Workers’ wellbeing is a shared responsibility between employers and employees and a true reflection of organisational culture. For workers to practice wellbeing and mindfulness at work, they must be supported by their organisations, their senior leadership and by line managers. Our videos feature simple wellbeing exercises, which do not require any infrastructure investment from employers. However, workers’ ability to use them in the workplace is likely to be proof of employers’ commitment to their workers’ health and wellbeing.”

Recognising that mental ill health is affecting society from an early age, this spring the government launched pilot schemes in 370 primary and secondary schools. They are designed to test different approaches to improving children’s mental health. The trial will teach students mindfulness, meditation and breathing exercises to help them “regulate their emotions” and deal with “the pressures of the modern world.”

The British Safety Council’s vision is that no-one should be injured or made ill through their work. The charity recognises that great progress has been made in Britain on addressing safety issues, but there is still significant work to be done on wellbeing and health, particularly when it comes to mental health.

Last year, using its training expertise, the British Safety Council, launched a range of mental health training courses. The courses are designed to start conversations about mental health and support employees who are experiencing mental ill-health. These courses are now available in both classroom and online formats.

In November 2018, acknowledging the growing importance of workplace wellbeing and the numerous uncertainties around it, the British Safety Council published a report Not just free fruit: wellbeing at work. It defines wellbeing in the workplace and suggests a set of metrics for effectively measuring wellbeing programmes and interventions.

In 2017, the British Safety Council helped to launch Mates in Mind. Mates in Mind provides a joined-up approach for employers when addressing mental health. It is now working with 210 organisations to support more than 188,000 employees.

HAE EHA launches new hire industry training event to promote wellbeing at work

SHOCKING statistics reveal that male workers in construction have a suicide risk that is three times higher than the average for England and even those in skilled construction jobs also have an increased suicide risk.

To address this unacceptable statistic, Hire Association Europe and Event Hire Association (HAE EHA), along with their training partner HAE Business Guard, are organising the first of a series of courses aimed to improve the ability of the hire industry to support the mental wellbeing of its workforce.

The two-day training event, which will be delivered by St John Ambulance and is endorsed by Mental Health First Aid England, will take place on 21 and 22 May at the association’s headquarters in Birmingham. The course is available to all members and non-members wishing to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace. This new training programme is designed to raise awareness of common mental health issues that affect the workforce and that can lead to a negative impact on an individual’s wellbeing at work.

The course will give employers practical ways to open up a helpful conversation on this topic and then be able to provide their workers with the care and support they need at the most appropriate time. Ultimately, the aim is to change business cultures so that mental health issues are taken as seriously as other health and safety matters.

Mental health problems in the construction sector are often due to the innate characteristics of the industry; it is a highly mobile industry with lots of casual workers, uncertain contracts, exacting timelines and is quite macho in culture. Often people don’t feel comfortable in raising personal issues and then muddle along until they can cope no longer.

HAE EHA has made it a priority to educate the industry to recognise the signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression before they get out of hand as well as giving businesses the tools and knowledge to assist employees with recovery. Being able to spot the signs of mental illness and offering help and support rather than judgement, should allow employees to thrive at work with the positive and significant knock-on effects that brings to the industry.

HAE EHA’s Commercial Manager, Paul Gaze added: “Our main aim is to raise awareness and help support employers to tackle this issue in an informed and positive manner. We want to help the industry and society in general. Everyone has mental health. Some days it’s good and some days it’s bad. It is just a question of making sure that employers are sensitive to this and can support people in the correct way.

“As an industry, we have a great opportunity to come together and help our workforce now and in the future. If we all work together to address this issue, then some real progress will be made. None of us is as strong as all of us.”

HAE EHA believes in leading by example and has already signed up to the Building Mental Health (BMH) charter to support its own staff by embedding a wellbeing strategy for its workforce and is encouraging members to do the same. Training staff to become mental health first aiders is a way to provide discreet support for individuals and encourages them to achieve a healthy work-life balance to minimise work-related stress levels.

For pricing and further details about the May course and other courses to be rolled out later in the year, contact HAE on 44 (0)121 380 4617 or visit the website www.hae.org.uk/courses

www.hae.org.uk

Mind launches new toolkit for workplace wellbeing in construction

THE mental health charity Mind has added a new toolkit for the construction sector, which can be found at the Mental Health at Work website. This UK-wide initiative allows all types of employers and employees to access free tools, advice and information – all in one place.

The construction toolkit comprises resources from a range of expert organisations and includes tips on how to start the conversation on mental health, mental health first aid training and five steps to building a positive and supportive culture in construction. Mind invited colleagues from Building Mental Health to put together this toolkit of resources.

Faye McGuinness, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Programmes at Mind, said: “We are pleased to launch this sector specific toolkit to the construction industry, in partnership with Building Mental Health. It brings together resources from a range of expert organisations, many of which are free.

“We know that suicide rates are a much larger cause of death than falls from a height in the construction industry. We hope this toolkit encourages people to open up the conversation on mental health in construction and to utilise the resources to help them get started.”

Emily Garnett, 30 from London, works at Morgan Sindall – a leading UK construction and infrastructure company. Emily, who has generalised anxiety and was diagnosed with depression in 2017, said: “It’s great to see a toolkit specifically designed for the construction industry. Over the past few years I have seen the positive changes within the industry towards health and wellbeing, although I believe there is still a long way to go, particularly in the construction industry where suicide rates are the highest of any sector.

“We will all experience mental illness directly or indirectly at some point in our lives, so the more we seek help and talk about it the better.”  

This website brings together information, advice, resources and training that workplaces can use to improve wellbeing and give employees the mental health support they need. Mind with support from The Royal Foundation, Heads Together and 11 other organisations, has created the free Mental Health at Work website.

A major study into workplace wellbeing by the mental health charity Mind has revealed that poor mental health at work is widespread, with half (48%) of all people surveyed saying they have experienced a mental health problem in their current job.

The survey of more than 44,000 employees also revealed that only half of those who had experienced poor mental health had talked to their employer about it, suggesting that as many as one in four UK workers is struggling in silence.

Mind surveyed nearly 45,000 employees and found that roughly 3 in 5 said their mental health was good or very good (58%), while 13 per cent of respondents said that their mental health was currently poor or very poor. Of those who said their mental health was poor, 82% said that this was work-related – either due solely to problems at work, or a combination of problems at work and outside of work.

To access the construction toolkit visit: www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/construction

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