Prioritising mental health in school construction sites

We're happy to announce that 44 of our school construction sites have started their site accreditation process with MATES in Construction. Four sites are now ‘MATES Accredited’.

A group photo of men and women wearing orange vests at a construction site

ASPEC Construction’s Mt Roskill Grammar School site, Cooks Brothers Construction’s site, and Marra Construction’s Apanui School and Tauranga Boys’ College sites have received their certificate of accreditation. 

MATES in Construction

MATES in Construction has one simple but hugely ambitious aim – to reduce the number of lives lost to suicide in the construction industry.

Suicide is everyone’s business – Mates in Construction(external link)

Receiving the ‘MATES Accredited’ status means that at least 80% of the workers have completed the MATES General Awareness Training. It also means that there are enough people on site who are properly trained to assist – or even just connect them to the right services that can assist – individuals who need mental health support. 

MATES in Construction Field Officer Damien Tuiloma commends all these worksites for their swift action in getting their accreditation sorted in such a short amount of time. 

Finding ways to make it work

Gathering all their contractors who will be working onsite at any given time for an hour of awareness training is often the biggest challenge many construction companies face in implementing the MATES in Construction programme.

To overcome this, ASPEC Construction’s Health and Safety Manager Carla Perry suggests that it’s worth exploring opportunities to incorporate it in regular activities that are already happening on the ground.

“We have site-wide toolbox talks every week. All workers and contractors already attend that so we decided to get someone from MATES in Construction to join one of those meetings and hold the General Awareness Training for everyone,” says Carla.

This strategy has helped Carla and her team achieve 100% of their onsite workforce to complete the training – an achievement that they are truly proud of.

“It is well-recognised that there are many factors that can impact adversely on mental health in the construction sector and the suicide rate in the industry is shocking. Promoting a good culture and ensuring our workers are well looked after is essential,” she says. 

A step towards the right direction

The Ministry of Education has partnered with MATES in Construction for 8 months and appreciate the positive response it's gotten. 

“We are truly proud that our construction suppliers – our partners in building safe and fit for purpose learning spaces for our rangatahi – are actively working on their commitment to the improvement of mental health in the construction industry here in Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Craig Barton, Ministry of Education’s Group Manager of Infrastructure Procurement. 

To date, we have reached over 700 people with key messages on suicide prevention through our partnership with MATES in Construction. We’ve also trained a total of 40 people who volunteered to be a 'connector' – someone who can help connect colleagues experiencing mental distress to the proper help they need.

What is a connector? [PDF, 491 KB](external link)


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