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Sun September 19 2021

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Willmott Dixon trains staff in mental health first aid

11 Apr 18 More than 130 employees of Willmott Dixon, a fifth of its workforce, have completed training in mental health first aid.

Willmott Dixon mental health first aider Kay Ortatepe
Willmott Dixon mental health first aider Kay Ortatepe

The training programme follows up Willmott Dixon’s All Safe Minds campaign, which aims to give mental health the same attention that has traditionally been given to physical health.

Everyone on a Willmott Dixon project receives a presentation on mental health in which they are made aware of the help available. The company’s new mental health first aiders (MHFAs) are being deployed across construction sites and offices to provide a network of support, not just for Willmott Dixon colleagues but also for supply chain partners.

Willmott Dixon launched All Safe Minds in 2017 to provide awareness of mental health issues predominantly effecting young men across the construction sector. It has implemented a number of measures to encourage construction workers to seek help if they have problems, and also to recognise the signs in family, friends and colleagues who may be repressing problems.

Willmott Dixon head of health, safety and environment Mark French said: “We’ve invested in training to equip our army of MHFA volunteers with skills to deal with potentially fragile situations sensitively and effectively.”

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He added: “Since the launch of All Safe Minds in 2017, momentum continues to build around the issue of mental health in our sector. Our mental health first aiders are a significant step forward in offering our workforce the best possible chance at improved mental fitness, but not only that, they also represent the welcome change in culture that is gradually taking effect across our industry.

“The MHFAs are an important route to support and we hope that their presence on site will eventually ‘normalise’ the subject of mental health so that it becomes a natural mind-set for men and women to seek help if they become overwhelmed by their own personal situation.”

Working with the acronym ALGEE, Willmott Dixon’s MHFAs are trained to:

  • Approach; assess for crisis; assist with crisis
  • Listen and communicate non-judgementally
  • Give support and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage other supports.

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