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Home » Men's Healthcare » Building a healthier construction workforce by making moves for mental health

Martin Healy

Managing Director, Gem Construction

Setting a new standard in the construction industry, the ‘Light on a Dark Day’ event emphasises the importance of mental health awareness for construction workers and aims to boost access to support.

The construction industry’s high-stress environment, coupled with the physical demands of the job, places considerable strain on workers. Historically, mental health can be overlooked, but there is also the stigma associated with discussing personal emotions among workers. To foster a healthier workforce, construction companies must prioritise raising awareness and cultivating a supportive working environment.

Mental health in construction

GEM Construction, a leading Irish construction company, has launched several initiatives aimed at supporting the mental health of its employees. Initiatives include highlighting mental health awareness together with providing dignity training and mental health first aiders while integrating mental health into the health and safety structure and collaborating with support organisations, such as Pieta House.

Martin Healy, Managing Director, highlights what the company is doing to change the status quo. “We are trying to remove the stigma associated with mental health in construction, changing the culture to one that is positive and supportive of people’s mental health needs.”

Extending support to people struggling

One of GEM Construction’s key initiatives is their ‘Light on a Dark Day’ annual event. This event raises awareness about mental health issues and provides support to employees. Healy says: “We held an awareness day on all our construction projects on the darkest day of the year during the Covid-19 pandemic. This involved hosting an outdoor breakfast with an opportunity to discuss and highlight the importance of mental health awareness.

“Pieta House counsellors attended on the day and became part of a focus awareness discussion on mental health. The added bonus of the day was a substantial charitable contribution to Pieta House to help support other awareness programmes.”

Encouraging honest and open conversations

The company worked on a book entitled ‘For my Friend in a Difficult Time’, in collaboration with Fergus Grimes, which was distributed throughout the event. Written in response to a personal experience of suicide, the book seeks to encourage an open and honest conversation about mental health. It highlights that people are not alone.

“Our initiatives have been well received by everybody in the industry. Everybody is acknowledging the need for change to improve outcomes for people struggling with mental health,” adds Healy. The book is a simple way of delivering a complex message and has been extremely well-received by all who read it.

Annual event dedicated to industry mental health

GEM Construction’s approach to mental health is setting a standard in the industry. By prioritising mental health initiatives, the company not only improves health outcomes but also enhances productivity and safety.

“We are re-energising our ‘Light on Dark Day’ annual event this year, and we welcome other companies throughout the construction industry and beyond to follow suit,” says Healy. “It is difficult to see logic and reason when you are in the depths of mental illness. We want people to know they have access to support.”

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