This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in Australia (4-10 October, 2015). It’s an annual national awareness event held every year to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and wellbeing in the wider community and coincides with World Mental Health Day which is on 10 October every year. The aim is to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness with local and regional events offering platforms to engage the community in dialogue regarding help-seeking behaviours and mental health promotion.
The building sector in Australia can often be a difficult and stressful environment to work in, with issues of #mentalhealth and anxiety difficult to manage. MATES in Construction is an industry led approach to an industry problem and is all about MATES helping MATES.
MATES in Construction are a community development organisation aimed at reducing suicide and improving mental health and wellbeing within the Australian construction industry.
Established in Queensland in 2008 and operating in NSW, SA and WA too, MATES in Construction was established to implement the recommendation of a major report on suicide within the Queensland Commercial Building and Construction Industry which found that suicide rates in the industry was higher than the Australian average for men, and that youth suicide within the industry could be as much as 2.38 times more common than amongst other young Australian men.
MATES in Construction is based on the simple idea that “suicide is everyone’s business” and that if the building and construction industry in Australia is to improve the mental health and wellbeing of workers and to reduce suicide then assistance cannot be left to the mental health professionals alone, but rather everyone in the industry must play their part.
If you or your mate are doing it tough and would like help call 1300 MIC 111 (1300 642 111). This is a 24/7 line.
If you are concerned about someone else and would like to know what you can do to help, either phone 1300 MIC 111 (1300 642 111) yourself or pass the number to the person you are concerned about and get them to make the call.
IF LIFE IS IN DANGER (YOUR’S OR ANOTHER’S) PHONE 000 IMMEDIATELY.
What can we do?
Take the time to stop and listen, be alert, and ask questions.
This is the message Sally Healey of Jigsaw Training Group, is sending to those who suspect they know someone who may be considering suicide.
Jigsaw trains counsellors to deal with those struggling with mental illnesses, and Sally’s educators are taught to look for key signs that may uncover how people are really coping.
“No one talks about suicide and death, but we should,” says Sally.
“Often those people want to open those conversations, but don’t know what to do about it. We should not be afraid to open those conversations.
“If we could be more alert and proactive helping people with depression, maybe we could lower some of these dreadful numbers.
“If we use our listening skills and let that person talk,” Sally says, we might be able to help them with what the problem is at the time. Allow that person to tell their story. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. So a discussion is the best thing you can do at first.”
Sally’s suicide ‘red flags’:
- A person shows signs of disengaging from society and wanting to be alone.
- Giving away personal possessions and “tidying” up their lives.
- Loss of energy and signs of tiredness; not wanting to get out of bed or go to work.
- Alcohol or drug abuse.
- Self harming signs; cuts to wrists, etc.
- Personal hygiene can start to slip.
- Conversations signs: “It’s all my fault. I’m to blame. What’s the point? Is this ever going to get any better for me?”
- Emotional signs: “I’m very angry. I’m sad. I’m useless.”
Things we can tell them
- “I’m really worried about you, because you haven’t seemed like yourself lately.”
- “I’ve noticed you have been doing less, is everything okay?”
- “What can I do to help you? What support have you got? How can I help you with that support?”
- I really want to help you; would you like my help?”
Sally say to always keep them involved with the plan; there should be no surprises.
“Tell them to discuss how they are feeling with their GP; then tell them to come back and talk you you about how it went. Follow it up. You could give them some information (a help line or website [see below], a pamphlet, etc) and then ask them ‘did you read that information?’.
“Tell them you are concerned and you want to do something. Call a hospital and make sure they can get care straight away for example.
“If we can all play a little part in taking more notice then we might collectively save a lot of lives.”
Thanks to ‘Sunshine Coast Connect’ Issue 5 for this interview
Need extra information or help?
beyondblue is working to reduce the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide in the community by raising awareness and understanding, empowering people to seek help, and supporting recovery, management and resilience.
You can call beyondblue on 1300 22 46 36 or WebChat 3pm to 12am.