BIM Academy continues to work towards normalising mental health conversations

by BIM Academy | February 9, 2024 | 5 min read

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Mental health is a state of mental wellbeing that enables us to cope and manage the pressures of everyday life. And different people manage these pressures in many different ways.

Mental health is often perceived in a negative way, associated with the likes of depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, addictive behaviours… we could go on. However, many people are trying to change this negative perception and encourage us to embrace mental health and look upon it as an opportunity for growth, to understand, accept and welcome our inner thoughts to enable the growth process.

Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is the topic of our current Digital Climate podcast series, entitled “Why building mental health awareness is important for the construction industry”. Managing mental health effectively begins with understanding and awareness: understanding what mental health is, and the impact it has on all different facets of wellbeing is crucial for organisations and their employees.

In this episode, Dr Graham Kelly talks to two guests about their mental health. First is Ali Salford, a registered nurse and mental health psychological practitioner, currently working with the charity, Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) as Head Start Programme Manager. Joining her is BIM Academy Associate Andrew Johnson, who very openly discusses his struggles with mental health since leaving the army.

WWTW is a military charity, delivering mental health and care coordination programs in collaboration with the NHS to support the entire armed forces community, particularly those preparing to leave and those who have already left the forces.

Graham begins by saying to Andrew that he knows how important this charity is to him and invites him to explain how WWTW has supported him personally.

Andrew responded with how he was diagnosed with both Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and how WWTW has supported him with this and the fundraising activities he has carried out to counter support the charity.

Andrew explained how in his own therapy sessions he learned he had 27 triggers and after working with WWTW, this reduced to just one! Alie added: “There are many triggers for ex miliary personnel, not all are trauma related, there are a whole host of things that the charity helps people work towards. But with psychological therapies, this is only a small cog in the bigger picture, because actually, the hard work comes from the person themselves.

Alie added: “Very often we can advocate and support the person by working with their new employer. Their employer can understand and provide adjustment so that nuance support can really help someone, particularly in a new job or a new career.”

It’s this aspect of supporting ex miliary personal that the three continue to discuss, about the transition from leaving the miliary to entering a new world of work, with less routine and less regimented day to day activity. This can often be difficult to adjust to.

They also discuss how many people leaving the miliary are drawn to the construction industry. There are many synergies between roles and requirements in the military and construction. The number of roles available within construction, including traditional construction activities as well as a range of consultancy services, means there’s a role suitable for almost anyone leaving the military. Alie stated that team working, collaboration and camaraderie are strong work ethics across both the miliary and construction, where people reply on each other’s skills and expertise to accomplish tasks and projects as they work together.

Andrew agreed, that the military is heavily linked with construction, from defence, to infrastructure to health and safety – there is a clear cross over. Construction has a strong structure for people, process and performance, as does the miliary. Strict training also applies to both, although on different subject matter, but the training and upskilling need is prevalent.

Alie makes a case for normalising mental health conversations, that no matter where you are, in the miliary, at home or at work, creating a culture of having mental health conversations and ensuring people know where they can seek help is essential.

Listen to the full podcast to hear first hand experience of being diagnosed with mental ill health from Andrew and what Alie has to say about how to best manage mental ill health and where people can seek help in the construction industry and beyond.


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