Workplace Relations

Mental Health Awareness

The Time is Now

For many years, suicide prevention and mental health have been seen predominantly as home issues that come to work. Because of this thinking, anything around mental health in construction was viewed by many as a side issue:

“We want people to be well and we did stuff on RUOK day but what else are we supposed to do—people need to take some personal responsibility!”

Mental Health is a safety issue, so we need to view it with a safety lens. The difficulty is, as a plumber, this was not in your training. So where do you start?

In 2017, Beyond Blue and MATES in Construction, held a national roundtable of stakeholders in the construction industry across Australia. The result of that meeting was the establishment of a Blueprint for Better Mental Health in the construction industry—a framework to help businesses treat mental health in the same way they treat safety. It’s a how-to-guide for both large and small businesses. It recognises that many businesses are already doing good work in this area but don’t know what to do next. MPAQ have endorsed this document on behalf of their members.

What is in the Blueprint Framework?

In simple terms, it has five pillars that support a business to have a mentally healthy workplace:

Pillar 1. Promote work’s positive impact on mental health.

Pillar 2. Reduce the harmful impacts of work.

Pillar 3. Provide mental health and suicide prevention literacy.

Pillar 4. Facilitate early intervention and treatment.

Pillar 5. Provide return-to-work and ongoing support.

Each of these pillars has activities and strategies to help make them a regular part of how you do business. Many of you are probably doing something in most of these pillars now. You can sign up to the Blueprint by contacting MATES in Construction and they will provide someone who will help you map what you are currently doing well and help you with the next steps.

What Is MPAQ Doing?

MPAQ has partnered with MATES in Construction to provide our members with the important information they need about mental health in the workplace.

Over recent years, mental health is a topic that society more widely has been talking about more openly, and the stigma seems to be changing. Across Australia, we have seen a focus on the mental health of men who traditionally have suffered in silence. As a predominantly male-dominated industry, the plumbing and gas trades must engage in mental health and suicide prevention to help protect our colleagues and friends. It is important to check in regularly with your colleagues, especially apprentices.

Our hope is that as an industry we can start to create a culture in the plumbing and gas industry where workers feel supported and free to express their emotions. We could save a lot of lives if people feel that they have somewhere to turn with judgement.

In conjunction with MATES in Construction, below are a number of resources to help employers provide mental health and suicide prevention support. 

If you have any questions or need support, please contact the MPAQ Workplace Relations team on 07 3273 0800 or call MATES in Construction on 1300 642 111 for 24/7 support.

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