The funding will be used by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England to train 156 fully certified construction mental health first aid instructors by September 2019. The first MHFA instructor course was held in May, with the others due to take place over the next 18 months. These instructors will each be required to deliver two of MHFA’s two-day training courses, resulting in at least 2,500 qualified mental health first aiders by 2020.
The funding has been provided from CITB’s Flexible Fund to Building Mental Health, an industry initiative comprising multinational construction firms including Lendlease, Mace, Multiplex, Morgan Sindall and Laing O’Rourke.
Organisations can apply to the Flexible Fund for between £10,000 and £500,000 for projects they believe will solve a “gap in industry skills”. CITB’s website says it will finance up to 70% of the total cost of a project and the organisation “will need to find match funding for the other 30%”.
The newly qualified mental health first aiders will provide support on construction sites and in yards and offices, from micro-sized businesses to large employers throughout the UK and Ireland. However, it is estimated that some 40,000 MHFAs are needed to provide enough support for the whole construction industry.
Geeta Nathan, head of economic analysis at CITB, said: “The mental health and wellbeing of construction workers is one of the biggest issues our industry is currently facing. In 2016/17 the sector lost 400,000 working days due to stress, anxiety and depression – the equivalent of losing 1,600 full time workers each year.
“Given the stigma this subject faces, it’s so important that we lead the way in shaping a culture change. Building Mental Health’s training initiative will see 156 construction workers becoming mental health first aid instructors, with those 156 instructors by the end of 2020 having trained a minimum of 2,500 mental health first aiders. This will have a hugely positive impact on mental health awareness not only in construction, but for individuals, families and communities across Great Britain.”
Jaan Madan, workplace lead at MHFA England, added: “We recognise that there’s a pressing need to increase mental health support in this industry and welcome CITB’s announcement, which represents the biggest commitment to tackling the issue in the construction industry to date. We now look forward to working with Building Mental Health to roll out this new instructor training programme.”