Hinkley Point: 'We are doing more on mental health than anyone'
The Guardian raised concerns this week about mental health and suicide at the site in Somerset, where 4,000 workers are building a new nuclear power station.
EDF Energy confirmed that one person had taken their own life while working at Hinkley Point, but that a second suicide reported was thought to involve a former worker.
The Guardian acknowledged the assertion by Angie Young, the site health and wellbeing manager at Hinkley Point C, that the claim about the number of suicide attempts was “wildly exaggerated”.
EDF Energy’s site construction director at Hinkley Point C, Rob Jordan said: "Mental health is a serious problem in the construction industry and for many years not much was done to help people suffering from it.
"Here at Hinkley Point C we are determined to take practical steps to help workers, as well as tackle the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s as important to us as dealing with industrial safety.
"From my experience of the construction industry, both here in the UK and overseas, I know that we are doing more to tackle the issue of mental health than on any other project.
Step change of approach
"Our team won an industry 'Health and Safety 2019 Award' for mental health support. The judges described the effort at site as 'a new benchmark for the industry' with an 'innovative step-change of approach to mental health and well-being'.
"It is disappointing that the headline in The Guardian did not reflect the reality of all the good work we are doing to tackle an industry-wide issue."
EDF Energy was keen to stress that it has introduced a raft of measures aimed at supporting workers’ mental wellbeing at Hinkley Point C, including providing professional health services on site by Duradiamond Healthcare, an onsite GP service, specialist nurses, and mental health support.
Mental health awareness training is also provided for managers and supervisors to help identify potential signs and to encourage a supportive working environment.
The site has more than 200 trained male and female volunteers across the workforce working as mental health buddies, and former boxer Frank Bruno was invited onto site in May to tell his story of coping with mental health issues in front of an audience of 800 construction workers.
Mind calls for more support
Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, called for better mental health services for construction workers.
She said: “It’s unacceptable that so many people are reaching crisis point and taking their own lives. We want to see greater investment in early intervention and prevention mental health services, as well as 24-hour NHS crisis care available for people when they are at their most unwell.
"The new minister for mental health – Nadine Dorries – has suicide prevention within her remit. As well as investing in NHS mental health services, she must work with ministers to tackle the underlying social issues that play a huge role in our mental health, such as housing, debt, employment and a benefits system that doesn’t adequately support us when we need it. But it’s not just government, we all have a responsibility to help reduce suicides – whether we’re employers, colleagues, friends or family.
“It’s shocking that suicides are a larger cause of death than hazards and health and safety issues like falls from a height within the construction sector. Thankfully employers – including those within the industry - are taking steps to address this and try to create a culture where staff can talk about their mental health rather than struggle in silence. There are measures employers can take to tackle the work-related causes of poor mental health at work, and lots of interventions are free, such as Mind’s construction toolkit – available from the Mental Health at Work website.”
Source: Construction Manager
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