Chris, a 30-year veteran of the construction industry, was a caring and loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. In 2019, Chris suffered a mental health crisis brought on by severe stress, which developed at rapid speed and had catastrophic consequences.

In partnership with Chris’s family and friends, this Stress Awareness Month, mental health charity Mates in Mind will be sharing ‘Chris’s Story’, a short film designed to raise awareness and understanding of the very real impact that workplace stress can have on our lives and the importance of recognising the signs that someone might be struggling.

Michelle, Chris’s wife comments:

“Chris’s death has left us as a family with extreme heartache and unbelievable grief and we know nothing will bring Chris back; but we hope by sharing his story we can save other families from this devastation. Chris never experienced any mental health illness previously so we can’t emphasise enough if it can happen to him it can happen to anyone.”

James Rudoni, Managing Director of Mates in Mind stated:

“Chris’s story sends a clear message that only with the support and commitment of leaders in the construction industry can we address stress in the workplace, transforming the overall mental health of workforces and ensuring a meaningful change.

We know that there needs to be more awareness and effective management of stress risks in the workplace and that enabling people to open up conversations about mental health while providing them with the awareness and education to discuss the topic, continues to be the most immediate and effective starting point for improving mental health.

Together we can help develop open working environments where the stigma and silence around the topic can be eliminated- and that is exactly what we aim to do this Stress Awareness Month.”

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in the UK alone, there were over 828,000 workers suffering from work related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2019/20, which resulted in around 17.9 million working days lost.

For the construction industry in particular, the negative impact of the global pandemic has added to an already pervasive mental health challenge within the sector. As reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the suicide rate among construction workers is already three times the national average for men, equating to more than two construction workers taking their own life every day .

Mental health charity, Mates in Mind, is committed to changing these statistics by getting the construction and related sectors talking and taking action.

This Stress Awareness Month, Mates in Mind will be asking organisations within the construction and related sectors, to commit to installing long term change within their businesses to not only ensure a healthier and safer workplace environment for their employees, but also to help change the wider industry culture around workplace stress.  Just one small step, such as an annual stress risk assessment, can help organisations to identify work-related stress risks within their company and help them meet their duty of care in the identification and mitigation of work-related stress.

Additionally throughout April, Mates in Mind will be sharing Chris’s story to raise awareness and understanding of the very real impact that workplace stress can have on our lives and the importance of recognising the signs that someone might be struggling.

The charity is encouraging organisations to use this month as an opportunity to open vital conversations about stress at work and to encourage an open and honest dialogue with staff. To support these conversations, the charity is providing free training and resources throughout the month.

Understanding the importance of managing and reducing workplace stress has arguably never been more important than now, in the shadow of the COVID-19 epidemic, as businesses begin to focus on returning to work and supporting their teams as they adjust to their new ways of working.

Employers are recognising that providing a mentally healthy workplaces is a necessity and not a luxury for the way we work today, because there is no health without mental health.

To join Mates in Minds month long campaign, see their website for more information or share their video ‘Chris’s story’ available across their social channels.

TRIGGER WARNING: Please note, the following video includes mention of suicide and may be upsetting to some viewers.

Chris’s Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDg14zNIF-w

[1] Health and Safety Executive, Working days lost in Great Britain 2019/20.

[1] The Office for National Statistics, Suicide by occupation, England.

 

Notes to editor 

 

About Mates in Mind 

Mates in Mind is a registered charity working in the UK that aims to provide clear information to employers on available support and guidance on mental health, mental illness and mental wellbeing, and how they can address this within their organisations. Mates in Mind looks to make sense of what options and support are available to employers wishing to promote improved mental health within their workforce.

Mates in Mind is a collaboration of founding partners: Health in Construction Leadership Group and the British Safety Council. It is also supported by construction industry charities and bodies and has various Mates in Mind business champions, including Balfour Beatty; DE Group; Galliford Try; Mineral Products Association; RSE Group; Sellafield; Tarmac; and Tideway. Quotes of support from these organisations are available on request.

Mates in Mind works alongside organisations from across the Transport and Logistics sector including Focus Group Logistics, Maersk UK and Ireland, Port of London Authority.

Mates in Mind was the result of a Health in Construction Leadership Group summit in early 2017 for construction industry CEOs and senior leaders who voted overwhelmingly to improve the mental wellbeing of its workforce. At an event in January 2017, Mates in Mind was launched, and the pilot phase was started. Mates in Mind was featured in the Thriving at Work report published in October 2017.

More details on Mates in Mind is available at www.matesinmind.org

Mates in Mind must only be referred to in acronym form as MinM.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.