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Source: Site Safe

Site Safe has partnered with St John to develop the Mental Health First Aid in Construction course, designed specifically to suit the needs of the construction industry.
In 2019, Site Safe commissioned a report, in partnership with BRANZ, into suicide in construction that clearly identified construction as a high-risk industry for mental wellbeing.
Following the release of the report, Site Safe began looking at ways to offer practical assistance to the industry to understand and deal with mental health issues in its workforce.
Site Safe Chief Executive, Brett Murray, says highlighting issues relating to mental health in the construction industry is a step in the right direction.
“After the release of the report into suicide in construction, there was a real ‘what next?’ question, in us figuring out how to help our industry deal with the mental health issues that the report had clearly highlighted.
“We have partnered with St John to develop this course to tackle some of these issues head on. It complements the work Site Safe is currently doing with organisations such as MATES in Construction in the mental health arena.”
The course has a particular focus on the construction industry and highlights scenarios that workers may face on any given day on-site.
Combining the experience of the St John trainers in delivering their existing mental health course and applying the real-world context of the construction industry has provided outcomes intended to have benefits outside of just those who sit the course.
St John Head of First Aid Training, Julian Price, says the partnership represents a valuable opportunity for the two organisations to further spread the message of the importance of mental health.
“We have been delivering the Mental Health First Aid course since August 2018, however the ability to specifically target workers in construction who are at risk of mental health issues. It is invaluable and is part of St John’s continued commitment to improving the health outcomes of all New Zealanders.”
With a focus on construction workplaces, the newly released course takes a step towards addressing the prevalent mental health issues that are often swept under the carpet by the predominantly male workforce.
With successful trials run in Auckland and Wellington in late March, participants were in praise of the outcomes of the course.
When asked about the value that the course provided, Wayne, a construction worker who participated in the Auckland trial, said that it was very informative and he learned a lot in the subject of Mental Health that he did not have much knowledge of.
“It provided a lot more knowledge around how to identify and deal with people in need of assistance.”
One Wellington trial participant, Mickala, indicated that she would use her new understanding and skills to help others in her workplace.
“It taught me how to properly engage with people who need some help … and encourage them to seek the help they may not know they need.”
The course will equip attendees with the skills and knowledge to support their own mental health and assist others to do the same.
The Mental Health First Aid in Construction course is scheduled for release to the wider industry in June. One course is planned for Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, with further courses to be added subject to industry demand.
Brett Murray is confident of a positive industry response and looks forward to further course developments in future.
“My major focus for Site Safe as an industry leader and membership organisation is to work alongside the industry to develop high value products that address key issues the industry is facing.
“Mental health is certainly one of those, and this course is totally aligned to that goal.”