25th May 2022

Somerset’s first Mental Health at Work – Changing Culture in Construction Conference

Launch event of the conference working party with Mayor Cllr Diogo Rodrigues, at the new build Holiday Inn, junction 24.

Today two construction workers will take their own life. Male site workers are three times more likely to take their own lives than the average UK male. These shocking statistics have led a group of local businesses and trade federations to join forces and put on Somerset’s first Mental Health in Construction Conference, to be held at The Canalside, Bridgwater on 16 May, to coincide with National Mental Health Awareness Week.

Becky Wright, speaker at the conference, local Mental Health First Aid Trainer, Psychotherapist and founder of New Leaf Design said, “When I heard these statistics I felt I had to do something about this. This conference aims to raise awareness within the construction industry locally and to encourage a mental health programme which drives a culture of speaking up. We decided to start by making the construction industry in Somerset the most mentally healthy place to work.”

The launch event of the conference working party took place this week at the new build Holiday Inn, junction 24, with Bridgwater Mayor Cllr Diogo Rodrigues in attendance.

The conference will bring together people working in construction, mental health and local community support to share experiences and explore ways of making small changes that make big differences. The organisers hope that everyone who attends the conference will sign the ‘Building Mental Health Charter’.

One of the guest speakers on the day will be Bill Hill CEO of The Lighthouse Club which provides financial and emotional support including a helpline, to the construction community and their families.

Another speaker is Martyn Coyd, OBE, head of health and safety at Construction Health and Safety UK, who is also head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing at Mace Construction. He spent 18 years in the Royal Engineers and now has a leading role in the UK’s Building Mental Health Framework. As well as speakers, there will be workshops and an appearance by the Bridgwater Voices Community Choir.

Jackie Forsey, one of the organisers who works for a mid-Somerset building company says, “Contractors cannot afford to ignore this issue, where ten times the number of construction workers die from suicide than from accidents at work. Our own business has suffered this type of loss in the past and it had a devastating effect on both the workforce and the company as a whole. We need to start talking about stress, depression and anxiety in order to help those in our industry who are suffering with these conditions. I would encourage everyone in the construction industry in Somerset to attend the conference in order to better understand mental health issues and enable these conversations to start”.

Tickets for the conference are available on Eventbrite: https://constructionmentalhealth.eventbrite.co.uk