Building a solid mental health strategy with HB Projects
No matter how big or small your organisation is, your mental health strategy has to start somewhere. For HB Projects, a principal contractor firm based in Bradford, Yorkshire, their first steps towards a comprehensive wellbeing programme have already been recognised as among some of the best in the UK.
Lynda Parkinson, Health & Safety Manager, and Beverley Peace, Group Compliance Director at HB Projects, say they were “delighted” to have achieved the silver award in the Mind Workplace Wellbeing Index this yearMind’s workplace wellbeing indexWeb page
Mind's Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best practice and policy. It will highlight what your organisation is doing well, how you compare to others, and how you could improve in your approach to mental health at work.Paid for
By: MindView resource – a badge of honour for employers who have made demonstrable achievements in promoting staff mental health, demonstrating progress and impact over time.
“Being compliance people, we needed something to work towards,” Lynda explains. “We saw the Index as something that could gauge what we were doing.”
We wanted to make it clear that it’s okay to talk, or to not be okay.
When they began developing their new mental health strategy, their first priority was to ensure it wasn’t just a flash in the pan – they wanted to introduce something that made a measurable, long-term difference. Construction, in particular, has a unique set of challenges when it comes to mental wellbeing – the sector is predominantly male, and research from Mind recently found that men are twice as likely as women to have mental health problems due to their job.
The data shows that men are less prepared to seek help and take time off than women. And, while two in five women (38%) feel the culture in their organisation makes it possible to speak openly about their mental health problems, only one in three men (31%) say the same.
Beverley also points out that construction workers often face the stress of having to wait for parts to be manufactured, but also have to be accountable for any delays to clients – a position that can leave them feeling like they have nowhere to turn. “There’s that traditional view of men in construction that they can just carry on and get the job done,” Lynda says. “We wanted to make it clear that it’s okay to talk, or to not be okay.”
We didn’t want it to be ‘fluffy’.
They kicked off their initiative on Facebook, before taking a mental wellbeing roadshow to their regional offices with the goal of engaging all 178 of their employees. They enlisted the help of a footballer who struggled with his mental health, to keep the content exciting. “We didn’t want it to be ‘fluffy’,” Beverley adds. “It was just down to earth, practical advice.”
In the next stage, they kept the conversation moving with posters, pamphlets, and visiting experts. “We had a psychosexual therapist come in once,” Lynda laughs. “She sparked some really interesting conversations, because it’s her view that often her patients will say they have one problem, but she’ll help them realise they actually may have anxiety, or a problem with their eating habits, for example.”
We’ve still had a number of employees approach us and ask if they can do the training.
HB Projects also have a team of 20 Mental Health First AidersMental Health First Aid (MHFA) England at work: supporting mental health in the workplaceVideo
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England talk to employers from a range of sectors, from construction to charity, to find out how their training has benefited them.Free
By: Mental Health First Aid EnglandView resource – employees trained to look out for signs and symptoms of a range of mental health conditions, as well as providing support and guidance to employees.
“We don’t actually need any more First Aiders at the moment,” Lynda says. “But, we’ve still had a number of employees approach us and ask if they can do the training. They’re still interested in that knowledge and skills it provides.”
Their hard work was recognised in April when they received the Silver Award in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index 2018-2019, at an awards evening held in London. “The Index helped us gain a real understanding of how we were supporting our staff,” Beverley explains. “We got far more responses to [the Index survey] than we’ve had for our own employee survey, so it was really useful.”
Valued and supported employees are far more likely to deliver the best outcomes for your organisation.
Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, says she had been “overwhelmed” to see so much good practice right across the board, from each of the organisations taking part in the Index. “The Awards event provided an opportunity to recognise those forward-thinking employers who are at the cutting edge when it comes to investing in their staff wellbeing, and in turn getting the best outcomes for their business,” she says.
“Every employer depends on having a healthy and productive workforce – valued and supported employees are far more likely to deliver the best outcomes for your organisation.”
But HB Project’s story doesn’t end here. Lynda and Beverly are hoping to push forward with their mental health strategy, with the aim of scoring a Gold Award in the future. “With the great recommendations that came with Mind’s proposal from the Index, we have ideas on where to go next,” Beverley says. “So next time, when we come back, we’ll be trying for Gold. Until then, we’ll keep moving forwards!”
Mind's Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best practice and policy. It will highlight what your organisation is doing well, how you compare to others, and how you could improve in your approach to mental health at work.