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“We want everyone who works here to feel they can truly be themselves and ask for support if they need it.”
 

Started MHFA training
February 2016

Staff trained so far
96


Skanska is one of the UK’s leading construction contractors and developers. Its people are the heart of its business, which is why it places such a strong emphasis on creating the right working culture where its 5,500 employees feel valued, able to contribute and reach their potential.


Why we train our staff in MHFA

The effect of mental health issues in the construction industry is well documented with statistics showing that 10% of all suicides in the UK happen within the sector. In fact, workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than from a fall from height.1

Skanska is placing a greater focus on mental health and wellbeing, and in February 2016, was one of the first construction companies to sign the ‘Time to Change’ pledge – in association with mental health charities Mind and Rethink.

Skanska’s President and CEO, Greg Craig has been inspired to act by his personal experience of the impact mental health issues can have, and signed the pledge on behalf of Skanska. This marked the start of a campaign to raise awareness of mental health issues and to remove the stigma and discrimination attached to it. 

“Mental ill health affects one in four people in the UK, every year. That’s a significant statistic when you consider the size of our workforce.”

Head of Occupational Health and Wellbeing at Skanska, Tricia O’Neill, is leading the campaign. She explains: “Mental ill health isn’t something we can necessarily see but it affects one in four people in the UK, every year. That’s a significant statistic when you consider the size of our workforce.

“Since signing the pledge, we have been working hard to deliver on our commitment to not only put the right support in place, but to develop a culture of understanding to change the perception of mental health.”

Underpinning its commitment, Skanska has started to train ambassadors in Mental Health First Aid. Through MHFA training, these ambassadors are taught to spot the signs of stress and anxiety and offer support and guidance towards a range of wellbeing facilities offered by Skanska.

“Through the ambassador programme we can offer a visible line of support to employees who might be suffering in silence and reduce the stigma that is attached to mental health,” explains Becky Martin, Communications Business Partner and a Mental Health Ambassador at Skanska.

Skanska also offers an employee assistance programme run by UK provider Health Assured, which offers around-the-clock support and counselling.


Results

Since February 2016, Skanska has already trained 96 employees in MHFA, with a commitment to have trained 100 by the end of the year. Many of the ambassadors have personal experience of mental health issues. Tricia says: “My vision is to build up the mental health ambassador network to cover all sites at Skanska and ensure resources are available to everyone no matter where they work.” 

As well as the ambassador programme, Skanska is involved in national mental health initiatives, including Mental Health Awareness Week and Mental Health Foundation ‘Tea and Talk’ events. It also held a Stand Up, where the whole company – across all sites – spent time discussing mental health issues.

Tricia explains: “The aim of these events is to keep up the momentum around removing discrimination attached to mental health issues – one conversation at a time – and to raise awareness of the support available at Skanska.” 


What the future holds

Skanska is planning a conference to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October. Those attending will include supply chain employers, employees and contractors, with workshops planned to raise awareness around best practice to support anyone who may be experiencing an issue relating to their mental health.

“We’ve made some great steps in the last few months in trying to change the culture and attitude around mental health.”

Tricia concludes: “We’ve made some great steps in the last few months in trying to change the culture and attitude around mental health. We want everyone who works here to feel they can truly be themselves and ask for support if they need it.”


1 Mates in Construction