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Shining the spotlight on mental health in construction - Part 3

Tags: workplace policies, workplace management, mental health...

In part two of this series, we uncovered the stressors and warning signs of poor mental health within the construction workforce. In our third and final part of this series, we share top tips on how employers can manage mental health within the construction sector.

Top tips for managers to create a culture of acceptance and resilience

Putting mental wellbeing at the forefront of a company’s culture is no easy feat, but there are steps that employers can take to better equip managers with the theoretical and practical training needed to manage employees who may be experiencing poor mental health. Here, we list our top five:

1. Support swift and early access to medical intervention

It’s vitally important that employers support employees who may be suffering from mental health problems in immediately and swiftly accessing medical services needed to diagnose and provide treatment. Not only will early medical intervention enable your staff return to work sooner, but with the right support, mentally ill employees can also return to the same or better performance. Remember to appropriately keep in touch with your employee who may be taking time off due to mental illness, because failure to do so may cause them to feel alienated from the business.

2. Provide mental health first aid and unconscious bias training

Many employees are promoted into management positions because of their technical skills and ability, but without training, they will not necessarily have the right people management and communication skills to be able to deal with mental health issues in an empathetic and supportive manner. Employers should equip their line managers with comprehensive mental health first aid training to help them spot the signs of mental illness early on, and enable them to have clear and open discussions with employees about their mental health. Furthermore, line managers and employees should receive unconscious bias training which addresses outdated unhelpful definitions of weakness and strength.

3. Set and implement HR policies which take account of mental health

It is crucial for HR to ensure that all of its policies work together and take account of the impact of certain work issues on mental health; for example redundancy policies should provide for mental health after care. The following policies should reference mental health: anti-bullying and anti-harassment, performance management, disciplinary, change management, equality, diversity and inclusion. Subconscious bias training is also important to ensure that policies are not applied inconsistently by different managers with their own potential subconscious bias about employees with mental health issues.

4. Facilitate an open and supportive culture of communication

It is the responsibility of employers to promote an open and supportive culture, where line managers have regular one-to-one catch ups with their staff to determine their state of mental health and whether any reasonable adjustments need to be made to working conditions or activities. Doing so will allow employees to feel that they are able to be authentic and bring their ‘whole self’ to work, rather than pretend to be someone that they’re not, in order to conform and fit in.

5. It's a WRAP

Wellness Recovery Action/Assistance Programmes (WRAP) are instrumental in allowing the employee and employer to sit down together and have an open discussion about mental health, after which both parties can draw up a document which clearly lays out the employee’s workplace triggers for poor mental ill-heath and the symptoms to look for. Managers and employees will also be able to form a strategy, whereby the employee can receive the support they require from their employer, as well as the key people to contact in a crisis.

What are you doing to support mental health in your workplace?

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