More can be done on-site to reverse the unacceptable rate of construction worker suicides.
Despite countless public awareness campaigns, the perceived stigma around mental illness still prevents many people from seeking the support they need.
In recent years significant research has gone into the various causes of mental ill health and triggers of suicide. In many ways, the nature of the construction industry – where work can be stressful but also unpredictable and transient – compounds the problem.
And despite public awareness campaigns, perceived stigma around mental illness still prevents many people from seeking the support they need.
That’s why Incolink launched its innovative Bluehats Suicide Prevention Program in 2018. Designed with the construction industry in mind, Bluehats trains ordinary workers to understand and identify the early signs of mental distress that could, if left unchecked, lead to suicide.
In addition to general awareness education for all employees, nominated workers are trained to become on-site ‘Bluehats’ who are able to support colleagues with their mental health, either by being a trusted and non-judgemental person to talk to or by directing those in need to free, confidential in-house counselling or other professional support.
The program was revamped in 2021 to enable training to be delivered either on-site or online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, Bluehats has trained hundreds of workers to support their peers and will continue to train more this year. The program won the People’s Choice Award in the 2022 Australian Men’s Health Forum Awards.
Incolink CEO Erik Locke said both employers and employees had a shared responsibility when it came to supporting mental health.
“Everyone has a role to play in preventing mental ill health spiralling into suicide and no one is immune,” he said.
“We’re proud of the important role that Bluehats is playing across the construction industry in Victoria and the way in which employers and employees have embraced the initiative,” Mr Locke said.
Find out more about Bluehats at incolink.org.au/bluehats