Mental Health Awareness Week

Disclaimer: This article discusses suicide and mental health 

Last Thursday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and next week from the 21st-27th September is New Zealand Mental Health Awareness Week, so we thought we would share some insights into this important issue.

In 2019, New Zealand reported our highest number of suicide deaths to date, with a confronting figure of 685 cases. According to the Suicide Mortality Review Committee, construction has the highest suicide rate of all industries in New Zealand, at 6.9%. It is time that we recognised this issue, and understand the small, yet powerful steps that we can take to make sure our mates are ok, which can prevent the tragic effect on the lives of so many Kiwi families. 

MATES in Construction is a community-based programme that promotes the building and strengthening of communities in the workplace and across the construction industry – helping Kiwi’s to provide an environment that encourages positive wellbeing. 

MATES in Construction has three key focus areas to work towards their vision of significantly improving mental wellness and reducing suicide in the construction industry:

  • To advance mental health and social services in New Zealand by promoting the prevention and control of mental illness for people engaged in the construction industry. 
  • Providing leadership for our people to gain better access to mental health services. 
  • Building a stronger, more resilient workforce.

The key message is about taking time out of your day to remind each other to notice when our mates may be struggling, and that it’s not only OK to have these conversations, but it’s essential. 

Due to the current COVID19 climate, individuals may be struggling with financial stress, anxiety levels, and a lack of social interaction – factors that hugely affect our mental health and overall wellbeing. Therefore, it is so important that we support our friends and coworkers by taking 10 seconds out of our day to start these conversations. 

It can be as simple as asking “Are you ok?”, “What’s happening in your world?” or “You don’t seem yourself, is anything up?”. You don’t need to be a counsellor, but taking the time to check-in is a clear indicator to everyone that you care, and that they matter – and this can make a big difference. 

For more information, you can check out these resources below:

Mates in Construction

Boss Burnout – Spot the warning signs in yourself

Mental Health Foundation

Mates in Construction has a 24/7 helpline which you can call on  0800 111 315. Alternatively, you can seek additional assistance from an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), your local GP or your whanau and friends.

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