Two years on from its launch, industry-leading coalition Building Mental Health (BMH) has announced delivery of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England training to over 1,600 people in the construction sector. This comes at a time when the suicide rate for low-skilled manual construction workers is three times higher than the national average for male suicide.

Since July 2017, BMH has coordinated the training of over 140 MHFA England Instructor Members, who have gone on to train over 750 people in the industry as Mental Health First Aiders, with a further 800 trained in mental health awareness. MHFA England was chosen to deliver this programme as the country’s leading provider of workplace mental health awareness and skills training.  

Funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the initiative aims to train a further 144 MHFA England instructors, with ambitions to deliver training to tens of thousands more staff across the sector in the coming years.

Geeta Nathan, Head of Economic Analysis at CITB, said:

“CITB is pleased to see the success of this vital industry collaboration on one of the most important issues facing the construction sector today – the mental health and wellbeing of its workers. 

“The delivery of mental health training to 1,600 people in the construction sector will have a positive impact on individuals, families and communities in England. However, more work needs to be done to shape culture change and ensure construction workers do not suffer stigma, or in silence, anymore. CITB will strive to expand on the excellent mental health training underway.” 

As a cross-industry framework, BMH has connected with organisations including ACAS, the CITB, the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS), Construction News, Build UK, the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and Remploy, as well as a number of leading construction firms and mental health organisations. The group’s vision is to enable all parts of the construction sector to access mental health support by providing awareness and training and putting in place structures and systems of support. 

Commenting on the group’s work, Martin Coyd OBE, one of the founders of Building Mental Health, said:

“With this fantastic collaboration, we have been able to create a charter and an industry-wide framework to begin tackling the mental health crisis in the construction sector.

“We want everyone in the industry to recognise that training provided by Building Mental Health partners is critical to tackling the industry’s mental health crisis - and that these efforts will only be successful if we all work together. 

Simon Blake OBE, Chief Executive, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England said:

“Every day 15 people take their life in this country, and every day two of these 15 are construction staff. We simply must do more to protect and promote mental health in the construction industry. 

“Initiatives like Building Mental Health are helping firms to take huge strides. Thanks to this coalition’s ambitious training programme there is more mental health awareness, more understanding and more frontline support in construction than ever before.” 

BMH is also encouraging construction firms to sign up to The BMH Charter, with over 300 signed up so far. This commits organisations to promote education, awareness and understanding of mental health and mental ill health, to provide access to Mental Health First Aid England training, and to recognise and accept education and training provided by other BMH partners.