Alarming suicide rates within the building industry have sparked a NSW program aimed at shattering the stigma associated with men reaching out for help.
The Mates in Construction program, launched on Thursday, is seeking to connect workers with mental health professionals and offer support to those deemed at risk.
With suicide rates for the occupation close to twice the national average for men, NSW Minister for Mental Health Kevin Humphries said something needed to be done to challenge the statistics.
“Throughout the construction industry, perhaps more than any other, there is still a stigma around mental illness and around blokes reaching out for help when they need it most,” he said in a statement.
“This program aims to shatter that stigma and promote the message that the more people know about mental health and suicide prevention and are comfortable talking about it at work, the more people will seek help when they need it.”
Mr Humphries said in Queensland, where the program originated, it had been credited with preventing up to two suicides a week in the state’s construction industry.
At one Sydney building site where the program is already in existence, Mr Humphries said nearly 200 workers had undertaken mental illness and suicide awareness training equipping them with skills to recognise the warning signs and support their colleagues.
“As more and more sites across NSW receive their accreditation and more and more workers undertake this training I expect we will start to see an increase in men putting their hand up to seek help,” he said.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.