13th May 2022

During Mental Health Awareness Week, our teams across the country have taken part in various activities, sharing stories and resources with colleagues and customers to tackle loneliness – which is this year’s theme.

The annual campaign helps to raise awareness of the challenges of addressing mental health, as well as the actions that we can take to improve it.

The construction industry is one of the worst affected for people experiencing mental ill-health and the issue is well publicised in the industry.

As an employer of more than 600 people, most of whom are site-based, Van Elle understands that there is a duty of care that goes beyond physical health and safety.

Mental health is a big priority for our business and working together to support each other is something that we actively encourage.

We are fully committed to protecting the physical and mental health of our people and we do a lot of work raising awareness about mental health including educating people on the signs to look out for.

We also have a dedicated phoneline available 24/7 that members of our team can call for support if they need it.

As well as having a supportive internal network of more than 25 mental health first aiders (MHFAs).

We caught up with our three newest MHFAs to discuss the importance of having people trained to spot, help, and guide those showing potential signs of distress and assist them in accessing the support they need.

Claire said:

 “It’s fantastic to work for a company that invests in the mental health of its employees, by ensuring there are people in the business who can provide the right kind of support and signposting at the right time.

“As someone who has benefitted from the company’s mental health support services, I know the incredible relief and peace of mind that talking through problems with someone can bring.

“Although conversations around mental health have increased in recent years, there is still a stigma underlying this topic, especially within our industry.

“Having people in the business that employees know they can talk to, and who encourage open conversation, will help change the way mental health is perceived.

“My role as a mental health first aider has made me realise that mental health is a similarity that we all share, and it’s a stigma that we must break by being open. 

“Unfortunately, poor mental health does not discriminate, and everyone is at risk, therefore sharing our problems is often the first step to recovery.

“I hope to help build an open culture within the company, where everyone feels they can speak freely and honestly about mental health.”

Fazil said:

“Mental health issues are as much of a priority as physical ill-health and it is beneficial to have MHFAs to help those affected by poor mental health.

“Often work gets so busy and we can neglect our own needs or don’t notice signs that others may be suffering.

“We all know how to look after ourselves physically, but we don’t necessarily know how to look after our mental health.

“Having people within our business trained in mental health first aid ensures that there will always be someone in the workplace who can spot the first signs of a colleague struggling, and be the first point of contact if they are experiencing emotional distress or suffering with mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety, or depression.”

Gareth said:

“Having a network of MHFAs at Van Elle is a fantastic initiative.

“As mental health first aiders, we want to create an environment where our employees feel able to talk about their mental health and know where to go for support.

“Sometimes people within my team may not necessarily want to confide in me. But having multiple people across the business trained means that they can go to another MHFA for advice, or support.

“I think it’s vital for all organisations to have designated MHFAs available, providing support and guidance to their colleagues. It’ll benefit all employees, as well as the organisation itself.”

Van Elle’s latest MHFAs from left to right – Fazil, Gareth and Claire

If you’re interested in becoming an MHFA, our Construction Training Centre regularly runs a Mental Health First Aid England course, which helps people to recognise the symptoms of mental health so that they can support those who are affected by it.

To book onto the next two-day course, running in June, contact our training team.