Northamptonshire housebuilder lays the foundations for mental health discussions in the workplace

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In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week (13th – 19th May), Barratt Homes Northamptonshire is encouraging open discussions about mental health in the workplace having trained several of its employees.

A number of members of staff have undergone training in mental health first aid and are now the first port of call for colleagues who are experiencing issues with their mental well-being.

One of the division’s mental health first aiders is HR Coordinator, Claire Buswell, who said: “I decided to train as a mental health first aider for a very personal reason. I have witnessed first-hand someone in my family suffering from poor mental health for most of their life. I’ve seen what this can do to them and the struggles in obtaining a referral from their GP.

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“Mental health is still a taboo subject, particularly with men, that is why I believe it is important to discuss it in all aspects of life, including work. The more open people are to talk about what might be bothering them, the more understanding we have.

BN - Mental health first aider Claire BuswellBN - Mental health first aider Claire Buswell
BN - Mental health first aider Claire Buswell

“We all have mental health, both positive and negative, and mental health is just as important as your physical health. The biggest shock for me when I first started my training was how many people suffer with it on a day to day basis, and how they all deal with it differently.

“It’s a privilege to be able to offer support to colleagues if they need it, and I now have the confidence to start a conversation with a person if I notice a difference in them.”

According to the mental health charity Mind, one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England; with one in six reporting experiencing a common mental health problem, like anxiety and depression, in any given week.

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The training was organised by Mental Health First Aid England for the developer’s employees and the group undergoing the training was encouraged to share their own experiences of mental health struggles to aid their learning and understanding.

BN - 001 - A typical street scene at a Barratt Homes developmentBN - 001 - A typical street scene at a Barratt Homes development
BN - 001 - A typical street scene at a Barratt Homes development

The construction industry is known for its focus on physical wellbeing with risk assessments and health and safety being a priority to ensure routines run smoothly. With the mental health first aid training offered to employees, Barratt and David Wilson Homes is leading the change to consider the mental health impacts of working within the construction industry and is making a conscious effort to support its employees in this way.

Simon Francis, Managing Director at Barratt Homes Northampton, said: “We are incredibly proud as the UK’s leading housebuilder to offer this mental health first aid training to our employees, and every member that has undertaken the training is a credit to the company.

“Our employees and their mental health are of upmost importance to us and we couldn’t be happier to be leading the change in discussing mental health within construction.”

For information on how to receive support for mental health, visit the website at Mind.

To find out more about Barratt Homes and its nearby developments, visit Barratt Homes in Northamptonshire.