A couple of months ago we held a ‘Stop. Make a Change Week’, where we downed our tools and took the time to literally stop and talk about our wellbeing. It’s more important now than ever to talk about mental health in our industry, where suicide is a bigger killer than site accidents. Since our workshops, we’ve made sure mental health is still at the forefront of our practices, offering, for example, weekly offsite wellbeing drop in sessions for those who need it.
Stop. Make a Change Week at Eiffage Kier, April 2018
Today is Samaritans 24/7, an annual awareness day for The Samaritans charity. You’re probably aware of them, most people are, but do you really understand the extent of the services that they offer? Many of us just think of The Samaritans as a helpline for desperate people who are mentally suffering beyond the point of no return.
We couldn’t, however, be more wrong. The Samaritans offer so much more than that; they offer support to anyone, whatever they may be going through and at whatever stage their problems may be. All you need to do is pick up the phone, email, write or text.
It doesn’t stop there. They provide training to individuals and businesses too, giving people the skills and tools they need to offer support to others. They also provide access to lots of supporting organisations, like ‘Childline’, ‘Talk to Frank’ and the ‘NHS Choices’ website, where you’ll find a great tool for recognising depression and how we can build our resilience to it. Resilience was one of the main themes in our ‘Stop. Make a Change’ week presentations, where we explored different coping mechanisms. If we can find just one method that works for us, it gives us the chance to jump off that treadmill before we get overwhelmed.
We are all touched by mental health issues at some point in our lives. Since completing my mental health first aid training, I now appreciate how important it is to offer unconditional and impartial support to people and what a crucial difference it can make. We all have an idea of each other’s daily struggles in our working life, but how many of us know what our colleagues are facing once they leave the office, what daily struggles do they have before they even reach their desks? Encouraging people to talk about it in a safe and friendly environment is sometimes all it takes to make them feel stronger and less alone. As a Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) I find the Samaritans a crucial resource, giving me the confidence that I can offer appropriate and useful support when needed.
The Eiffage Kier Wellbeing Room
Which is why last month I started to form the ‘Wellbeing Room’ for Eiffage Kier staff to use when they need a break from the stresses of work life. We officially opened the room this week, and in there you’ll find calming décor, relaxing adult colouring books, stress balls, magazines, a yoga mat and live plants. It is strictly a no work zone, and on the door is an ‘In Use’ sign so people can rest assured that they won’t be bothered. It’s important that we look after our mental health, particularly during demanding times at work, when it can be easy to lose track of our wellbeing. Our staff can use the room to unwind, chill out and gather their thoughts in peace.
If you ever feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or just need someone to talk to, then the Samaritans are always there. I urge everyone to browse their website, www.samaritans.org; even if you are not in need yourself, it could give you the encouragement you need to offer someone that friendly ear or that little extra support. It could make all the difference, particularly in our industry.