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Construction staff build their understanding of mental health with free NHS training programme

Construction staff have been building their understanding of mental health problems, as part of ongoing efforts to reduce stigma in the industry.

Staff working on the £135m Bontnewydd Caernarfon bypass and the Rhyl sea defence project are the latest to receive the iCAN Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Training – which has been developed by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

Several studies have identified construction as one of the worst industries to work in when it comes to mental ill health, because of its long working hours, low pay, increased time away from family and a ‘macho’ culture, which discourages staff from talking about their problems. 

While mental health problems can affect anyone, men working in the construction industry are three times more likely to take their own lives than the national average.

The iCAN training, which is delivered free of charge, provides information on the signs and symptoms of common mental illnesses, as well as tips on how to look after your own mental health and support people who may be struggling.

It has been developed by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and is being delivered by the mental health charities it commissions to provide iCAN support services.

To date, more than 1,100 people across North Wales have received the training, including staff working for Caernarfon bypass contractors Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK and Balfour Beatty construction.

Scott Mascoll from Balfour Beatty is a Mental Health First Aid lead on the bypass project. He said: “The construction industry has one of the highest rates of suicide and there is quite a large stigma surrounding men talking about mental health. The most important thing is removing that stigma and making men feel comfortable talking to each other about their problems.

“Its important people working in the construction industry know that they’re not alone and that they can talk to people if they’re feeling unhappy. This training has been valuable because it’s given staff confidence to be able to support colleagues who may not be behaving as they normally do. Even if that’s just asking people if they’re ok and taking five minutes to talk to them.”

Elgan Clwyd Ellis, Senior Contracts Manager for Jones Bros added:

“The iCAN training has been very beneficial for everybody involved. I think its particularly important in the construction industry that we have training to heighten awareness of mental health issues, because we work in a very tough industry.”

The training programme is being supported with funding from the North Wales NHS Charity, Awyr Las.

Donations from the charity’s Light up Christmas events next month will help fund a number of healthcare projects across North Wales, including enabling more community groups and employers to benefit from iCAN training.

Light up Christmas will see a spectacular real life display of 2,000 lights adorn Bangor’s beautiful Garth Pier, while a travelling light show will visit hospitals across the region.

People are being encouraged to donate and dedicate a light to celebrate and remember their loved ones this Christmas.

To find out more about Light up Christmas, please visit the Awyr Las website: Awyr Las - Light Up Christmas 2021

To find out more about iCAN Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Training, please visit: