As a global property and construction company headquartered in Sydney, Lendlease has addressed the challenge of improving the health and wellbeing of its people head on. Lendlease is one of the longest running supporters of the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Workplace program, with over 905* people actively trained in mental health first aid.
This is of particular importance, given that the construction industry – with a traditionally male-dominated workplace culture and various wellbeing risk factors – is among the industries with the highest incidence of psychological distress and suicide. In fact in Australia, death by suicide in the construction industry, is six times higher than death by site related workplace accidents (Australian Construction Blueprint, 2018).
This risk can be mitigated, and companies who respond with positive preventative and interventional well-being initiatives play a major role in keeping individuals safe and thriving, at work, home and in their communities.
Taking a holistic approach
Lendlease has long been leaders in recognising the need for holistic well-being programs for their staff around the globe. For decades, they have been offering their employees access to programs that focus on wellbeing such as preventative health measures, financial wellbeing, sleep hygiene, physical fitness and personal resilience. They saw the benefit in adding mental and emotional well-being support into this mix and Mental Health First Aid Australia training has become an important element in their practices. This is one of many mental health support programs that Lendlease offer.
Jason McGovern, Business Engagement and Program Manager, Lendlease Foundation, talks about the reason MHFA was selected as their chosen mental health training program – extending the vision of the Lendlease Foundation, which was established in 1983 to nurture the wellbeing of staff and their families.
“MHFA Australia provides research-based programs that have been evaluated in delivering the outcomes Lendlease wants for our people and communities. It’s about supporting the psychological safety of our people and breaking down the stigma of mental illness in the construction industry…We know that workplace safety is equal parts physical and psychological wellbeing,”
Jason McGovern, Business Engagement and Program Manager
“Mental health awareness and training is not a ‘nice to have’, it is essential in ensuring the wellbeing of your employees and that they are supported.
Everyone sits on the mental health continuum, from poor, fair, good to thriving and it is normal that this will change on any given day, month or year due to life’s ups and downs. It is how we equip ourselves to deal with this that really matters”
Jason McGovern, Business Engagement and Program Manager
Supporting staff in all corners
Lendlease offers MHFA Australia training to people across all levels of their business including construction workers, site superintendents, office staff (in both executive and non-executive roles), as well as sub-contractors. The intention is to reach a broad cross-section of staff – building their capacity to support themselves and their peers. They have also engaged MHFA International licensees to deliver MHFA -Engaging Leaders across their international locations including parts of America, Asia and Europe.
Since 2015, the principles of mental health first aid have become an ongoing component of how Lendlease operates. They have aimed to have an MHFAider at every site, office, centre, project, or asset that they own or operate as part of Lendlease’s Global Minimum Requirements.
MHFA training is now embedded into their safety management systems and processes, they have made the courses and upskilling highly accessible to all staff. Their MHFA Instructors are strategically selected to meet this demand and provide local-area knowledge. This demonstrates the foresight of modern workplaces that are committed to safety and well-being can have in utilising mental health training for the benefit of their staff and business.
Value through outcomes
MHFA Australia believes in showcasing real success stories and impact within workplaces and communities. This is done to highlight the vital role that mental health first aid training has, and the commodity that it can be for individuals, groups, organisations and communities as a whole.
According to Jason, it didn’t take long after piloting the program, to begin seeing the benefits to participants. Feedback from their Injury Care and Recovery team, who regularly support those with work-related and non-work-related injuries and illnesses – including mental health problems – has indicated that managers and their teams are notionally more confident in dealing with and supporting those experiencing mental health problems.
“This is having very positive outcomes for our employees who are receiving the support, as they feel heard, understood and less judged no matter what they are going through.”
An important element of the program for Lendlease is its ability to have application both within the workplace and beyond it. Staff supporting other staff is a positive, but they are also noting that employees are taking their newfound skills out into the community – supporting family, friends and others.
There is now a network of 493* active MHFAiders from Lendlease in Australia, and since completing their training, 75% say they have gone on to support a family member, friend or someone else in their community, while 52% have supported a colleague in person, and 22% have used their skills to support a colleague virtually (Lendlease, MHFA Network Survey, 2020 n=186).
This all amounts to a significant real-life impact from people helping people. By educating and skilling Australia’s workplaces in positive conversations and actions around mental health support, MHFA can have broader positive impacts across our diverse communities.
To find out more about how your workplace can experience the success that Lendlease has had with MHFA, visit https://workplace.mhfa.com.au/
*figures verified as at September 2021.