Feature News — 20 October 2017

The company that looks after Birmingham’s highways has taken a significant step to improve the way they look after those working on the roads – by introducing mental health first aiders.

Health and safety is the top priority for Birmingham City Council’s highways partners, Amey, where employees work in high-risk situations, near moving traffic or at height, often using heavy plant and machinery.

Civil engineering and construction are, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, in the top 10 most dangerous professions in the UK.  But the numbers also show that those working in construction-type jobs have an increased risk of suicide, with the records suggesting workers in the industry are up to six times more likely to die from suicide than from a fall from a height.

Amey has provided Mental Health First Aid training to four employees on its Birmingham Highways Maintenance and Management service (BHMMS) which will enable them to identify key changes in emotions and behaviours in other employees and have the confidence to contact others that they are concerned about.

 

The training was provided by ‘Birmingham Mind’, a company which feeds directly into the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) who, in January 2017, launched an action plan to transform the way people with mental health problems are treated by public services and employers.

The Birmingham team is the first within Amey to provide this training, which will pave the way for others within the business to sign up to help colleagues that are struggling with their mental health, supporting the company’s ‘Time to Change’ pledge to end mental health discrimination.

Amey Mental Health First Aiders (L>R) Kieron Brown, Steve Winfield, Ann Harris and Emma Hardwick

Steve Winfield, a mental health ambassador and one of Amey’s new mental health first aiders, said: “It’s great that Amey are taking mental health seriously, reducing the stigma of mental health problems and equipping us with the skills to respond to a colleague who is struggling. The training was eye-opening and I now feel more confident to recognise early signs and encourage people to seek help.”

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