Build­ing con­nec­tions

CON­STRUC­TION IN­DUS­TRY TACK­LES MEN­TAL HEALTH

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Perth -

THE WA con­struc­tion in­dus­try might be boom­ing – just look at the South Perth sky­line – but men­tal health among its work­ers is a grow­ing con­cern.

Ac­cord­ing to Mates in Con­struc­tion WA, sui­cide lev­els within the con­struc­tion in­dus­try are up to two times higher than in other in­dus­tries, some­thing MIC WA is look­ing to ad­dress.

The not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion was formed to im­prove the men­tal health and well­be­ing of con­struc­tion work­ers through train­ing pro­grams and sup­port struc­tures.

MIC WA chief ex­ec­u­tive God­frey Ba­ronie said is­sues arose in the in­dus­try due to fac­tors such as long work­ing hours, a cul­ture of heavy al­co­hol abuse, bul­ly­ing and a lack of job se­cu­rity.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, men­tal health has not been a fo­cus of oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety mea­sures within the in­dus­try. How­ever, with the work of MIC this is grad­u­ally chang­ing,” he said.

“Via train­ing, MIC helps cre­ate groups of ‘ cham­pi­ons’ who pro­mote men­tal well­ness in their work­place and feel con­fi­dent that they can help peo­ple at risk of sui­cide.

“Hav­ing mas­cu­line work­ers feel­ing more com­fort­able and will­ing to have con­ver­sa­tions with their mates about im­por­tant is­sues, in­clud­ing men­tal health, is in­valu­able as it cre­ates pathways to help.”

Mr Ba­ronie said to date, MIC WA had given gen­eral aware­ness train­ing to more than 9000 peo­ple in the in­dus­try.

It had more than 600 vol­un­teer to be ‘con­nec­tors’ and more than 150 vol­un­teers to un­dergo ap­plied sui­cide in­ter­ven­tion skills train­ing.

More than 500 work­ers have used their ser­vices since 2011.

Visit www.matesin­con­struc­tion.org.au for more in­for­ma­tion.

God­frey Ba­ronie, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mates in Con­struc­tion.

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