The construction industry is a harsh environment, not just physically but mentally as well.
I am Charles Hill, founder and editor at large at ‘The GHFC’, (Glass Half Full Community), a not for profit which supports workplace mental health and wellbeing (WMHWB).
I am not a mental health professional. However, I have experienced debilitating mental health issues in the workplace.
I have also been involved in construction through my initial career selection as a quarry engineer. This included involvement in road building as well as commercial/residential construction.
In 2017, I decided to share my experiences and to support the mental health sector. ‘The GHFC’ was founded.
In 2019, the GHFC embarked on an initiative to provide individuals and corporations with their own ‘selfie’ as to where they sit in terms of their MHWB in the workplace.
By early 2020, we had completed a validation study of over 1,000 individuals from a variety of sectors and roles. This not only validated the study, but also established a current benchmark for workplaces in Australia.
The findings can be seen at https://ghfc2020profiler.org/#d2e1053d-bd1b-4342-90ab-5a02f7d545e0
In summary, in terms of overall workplace MHWB, the average benchmark coefficient score is 25, indicating a borderline ‘healthy’ to ‘unhealthy’ response. The individual perceptions of their own workplace MHWB indicate:
- A healthy workplace 65%
- An unhealthy workplace 35%
In other words 65% of survey participants regard their workplace as a ‘mentally healthy’ environment whilst 35% felt that their workplace was ‘mentally unhealthy’.
Plenty to be done!
The launch of the ‘GHFC 20:20 Profiler’ was set for March 2020, then covid 19 hit. Like everyone, this resulted in a re-think on strategy and a resetting of schedules and milestones. However, it also provided an opportunity to fine tune and to enhance the ‘product’.
Since March, I have met a couple of guys who share my passion for workplace mental health and wellbeing. I have also connected with amazing organisations who have WMHWB as their focus:
- ‘FitPlusWell’ (FPW) – https://fitpluswell.com/
- ‘Mates in Construction’ – https://mates.org.au/
- ‘CMHAA’ (‘Corporate Mental Health Alliance Australia’) – https://cmhaa.org.au/
- ‘Black Dog Institute’ – https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
This has resulted in further initiatives which are currently in the GHFC/FPW development pipeline:
- ‘The Mentaerobic Approach’
- ‘Strong Dad Movement’
- ‘Under Construction’
As we move into 2021, The GHFC and FPW will finalise these initiatives such that we are ready for action as soon as the industry returns to normal operation after the COVID related slowdown.
A cornerstone philosophy for these initiatives is that aerobic exercise will enhance emotional wellbeing. This is illustrated below:
This infographic demonstrates the relationship between physical health, mental health and the benefits of aerobic exercise.
All are interconnected. Should one element be missing or out of step, the effectiveness of the other two will be diminished.
The ‘sweet-spot’ is where all three overlap. This is illustrated by the space ‘MPHA’ in the diagram.
This is the ‘optimal space’, where exercise is stimulating both physical and mental health equally….’The Mentaerobic Approach’.
The infographic also alludes to three resources providing more in-depth support to the benefits of aerobic activity towards optimal MHWB:
- ‘SPARK’– The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain – by John Ratey
- ‘THE WILLPOWER INSTINCT’ – How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It – by Kelly McGonigal
- ‘THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY’ – Determinants, Well-Being and Interventions – by Stuart Biddle, Nanett Mutrie & Trish Gorely
Another cornerstone is the application of physical strength exercise to enhance MHWB of participants.
The science supports the critical part physical exercise plays in achieving optimal MHWB.
Our commitment is to provide the resources and mechanisms to drive MHWB, alongside the collaboration of all stakeholders who have a vested interest in the construction industry!
In the meantime,
‘Stay Mentally Well’.