Mental Health Awareness Week

15th May - 21st May 2023

Mental Health Week  starts from Monday 15th May until Sunday 21st May – it’s a week of raising awareness. The Mental Health Organisation are supporting communities, families, and individuals to live mentally healthier lives, with a particular focus on those at greatest risk.

Jeny Gray, HR Business Partner, is also a Mental Health Advisor at Advanté. She shares her knowledge and provides insightful information on mental health and useful suggestions towards better mental health generally and wellbeing. She also looks at why mental health is such an important conversation.

 

Jeny, so you’re a mental health first aider – what does that role entail at Advanté?

Being a mental health first aider is very important to me as I believe it plays a crucial role in promoting positive mental health and providing initial support for any individuals suffering mental health issues or crises.

To me, the key responsibilities are:

  • Identifying signs of mental health problems: A mental health first aider should be able to recognise signs and symptoms of common mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
  • Providing initial support, being available to be able to provide initial support to someone experiencing a mental health issue or crisis. This may be simply a listening ear, signposting to relevant resources, or encouraging the individual to seek professional help.
  • Promoting mental health and wellbeing and creating a supporting and inclusive workplace culture that promotes positive mental health and wellbeing for all our employees.
  • Reducing the stigma by raising awareness, challenging misconceptions, and promoting open and honest communication about mental health issues.
  • Referring to the appropriate support if necessary, such as our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a healthcare professional or a mental health charity.

Overall, we are here to provide initial support and promote positive mental health in the workplace, creating a more supportive and inclusive environment for all our employees.

Mental Health Awareness Week

How did you get into the Mental Health area?

As Advanté HR Business Partner, I have a responsibility to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of our employees. Having previously been a qualified first aider at work and looking after people physically, it made sense to qualify as a mental health first aider to support their mental health as well.

In my role, I can demonstrate that at Advanté, we value the mental health and wellbeing of our employees, which I believe plays an important part in retaining our people. Having mental health first aiders at work helps aid employee retention, as employees feel supported by their employer and are more likely to feel valued and therefore stay with the company longer-term.

 

Why do you think that mental health is such an important issue in the construction industry?

The construction industry is a high-pressure environment with tight deadlines, long hours, and physically demanding work. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues for employees.

Construction work can also be dangerous, which can lead to physical injuries and trauma. This, in turn, can lead to mental health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety.

The construction industry has traditionally had a culture of ‘toughness’ and ‘resilience’ which can create a stigma around mental health issues. This can prevent someone from seeking help when they need it.

Construction work can also be isolating, particularly for workers who are working away from home or in remote locations. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression.

The construction industry can also be unpredictable, with workers facing lay-offs or periods of unemployment. This can lead to financial stress, which can have a negative impact on mental health.

Static Welfare for Agile Working across all locations

How are you addressing mental health at Advanté to ensure all staff feel they have somewhere to turn if needed?

We believe we have created a supportive workplace culture which values and supports employees’ mental health and one in which they may feel comfortable seeking help when they need it.

  • We provide access to an Employee Assistance Program and also have an additional scheme in place where employees may seek help from a 24/7 Health & Stress helpline. We actively promote these schemes to our employees.
  • We encourage our managers and supervisors to recognise signs of mental health and respond appropriately, such as referring them to a mental health first aider or other mental health resources.
  • We encourage our managers to regularly check in with the teams and share any concerns with a mental health first aider.
  • We always encourage open communication and have created a culture where staff can feel comfortable discussing their mental health needs, and able to seek additional help if necessary.

 

What type of mental health issues do you come across mostly?

The current cost of living crisis is something we are all mindful of, which has obviously affected many with rising costs creating greater financial pressure on employees. We have ensured our employees receive a competitive remuneration package and are always looking at benefits for our employees whenever possible.

Also, employees dealing with issues in their personal life have had an impact on their mental wellbeing. The door is always open, and we signpost them to the appropriate help.

We know that in the workplace such things as poor work-life balance, heavy workload, unclear expectations, or workplace conflicts can all have a negative effect on our mental health if not addressed and at Advanté, we are very mindful of this, monitoring wherever possible to negate these issues.

Mental Health Awareness Week

How do staff with Mental Health issues get in touch with you and the other mental health first aiders?

  • We have created a supportive workplace culture and promote open communication. The details of our mental health first aiders appear on our posters located at all our sites, and they have a mental health first aider banner on their email signature.
  • We encourage all employees to speak up if they are experiencing any mental health issues and regularly promote our EAP, encouraging our employees to download the App so they and their families have instant access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if required.

 

Do you have three top suggestions on how to ensure good mental health?

  • Taking care of your physical health, such as getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly, can all have a positive impact on mental health. Also engaging in activities that bring you joy and help you to relax, such as hobbies or meditation, can help you manage stress and improve your mood.
  • Building strong relationships with family, friends and colleagues can provide a sense of support and connection that can help improve mental health. Making time to connect with others, whether through regular social activities or simply catching up for a chat, can help you feel more connected and supported.
  • If you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s so important to reach out for help when needed. Early intervention by talking to someone, a colleague, mental health first aider, a health professional etc. can help prevent mental health issues from becoming more severe.
Mental Health Awareness Week
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