Started MHFA training
Staff trained so far
Crossrail Limited is building a new railway for London and the South East. It will be known as the Elizabeth line when services commence in December 2018, and will carry over 200 million people a year between Reading and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east via 42km of new tunnels under London.
With men three more times likely to die by suicide than their female counterparts, the case for prioritising mental health wellbeing in the currently male dominated construction industry is clear.
As the largest infrastructure project in Europe, with over 10,000 people working across over 40 construction sites, Crossrail is in an ideal position to lead by example and leave a positive legacy for the infrastructure and construction sector in the provision of mental health.
As part of the company’s health and wellbeing strategy, 12 of Crossrail’s staff are now trained Mental Health First Aiders, and 90 more have taken MHFA England one day awareness courses.
Health and safety is Crossrail’s number one value. As part of its ‘target zero’ approach emphasising that everyone has the right to go home every day unharmed, Crossrail has embedded a health and safety culture into all aspects of the project.
The decision to train staff in MHFA followed the results of a survey carried out by the project which found that like the rest of the UK population, one in four of its staff have experienced mental ill health.
“Mental ill health can affect anyone. As an organisation we wanted to ensure that employees had people to talk to about whatever they might be going through and to give staff the skills to support people experiencing mental health issues.”
Christina Butterworth, Occupational Health and Wellbeing Strategy Lead at Crossrail explains: “Mental ill health can affect anyone. As an organisation we wanted to ensure that employees had people to talk to about whatever they might be going through and to give staff the skills to support people experiencing mental health issues.”
“Their training gives them the skills and confidence to help colleagues while looking after their own wellbeing.”
Christina receives consistently good feedback around the mental health support offered by the business. “Many of our volunteers are team administrators as they are often the first people that colleagues approach to get a question answered or to find out where to go to get further information. Their training gives them the skills and confidence to help those colleagues while looking after their own wellbeing.”
Alongside the MHFA England training, Crossrail holds a project-wide ‘Stepping Up Week’ twice a year; a period dedicated to health and safety for everyone who works on Crossrail whether that be on a construction site or in an office.
As part of Crossrail’s commitment to this area of wellbeing, last October’s Stepping Up Week focused on mental health.
Crossrail employs a number of other initiatives to address the stigma of mental health amongst the workforce including online training, practical workshops on personal resilience, stress management, fatigue, nutrition, exercise and mindfulness. Additionally the business is engaged with various networks and campaigns to ensure good practice and shared learning, including Public Health Responsibility Deal, Time to Talk, London Health & Wellbeing Week, City Mental Health Alliance and Business in the Community. Crossrail also offers the opportunity for staff to engage on their personal and business mental health requirements, through the company-wide wellbeing survey, as well as feedback sessions on all initiatives.
Crossrail is dedicated to improving health provision in the construction industry as a whole, with all members of its supply chain contractually bound to have their own individual wellbeing programme and wellbeing co-ordinators at every site. In addition the project has signed up to the London Healthy Workplace Charter, is a member of the Health in Construction Leadership Group, and offers employees resilience workshops.
The Crossrail programme is now over 75% complete with services through central London due to open in December 2018. Crossrail Limited is intent on leaving a legacy for how organisations can get mental health provision up and running in their workplace. Lessons learnt by the Crossrail project, ranging from their Health and Wellbeing strategy to technical construction documents, will be published at learninglegacy.crossrail.co.uk.