What we did during MHAW

What we did during MHAW

I’m so pleased with the way everyone at VGC has really engaged with MHAW (Mental Health Awareness Week)  this year.

I was on site at SCS several times this week to carry out site engagements with the operatives, along with Ben Keegan and Richard Wheeler.

I also attended several of the Dramanon sessions which were held on Monday to Thursday across the SCS West sites at South Ruislip, Mandeville Road, Copthall Road North, and West Ruislip Portal. They enacted a few scenes starting at ‘at home’ and then a ganger ‘at work’. These showed the various pressures that we all face as workers as well as being mothers, fathers, partners, managers, etc.

Dramanon MHAW session
Dramanon actors: in this scenario, the ganger’s wife was pregnant, which added to financial and family pressures.

In one scene, they showed a manager not dealing with a ganger in the best way. It was an interactive session, where operatives were asked how could they support a colleague who appeared to be acting differently, or was unhappy. Many of the workers offered great answers. These included:

  • the employee assistance programme (EAP)
  • mental health first aiders
  • talk to your bank
  • talk to your partner
  • take a colleague for a cuppa
  • catch up after work.
The photo above shows the ‘manager’ receiving feedback from the floor on how to approach the situation better.

Then the scene with the manager and the ganger was replayed. This time it was a sympathetic manager using the suggestions from the floor – offers of support with additional team members to get the job done; more empathy, cuppa and so on.

These were really good sessions. Natalia, our apprentice, attended and enjoyed the sessions too.

Other things we did during the week:

James Andrews delivering 'Start the Conversation' on the M4
James Andrews delivering ‘Start the Conversation’ on the M4

Labour manager James Andrews delivered four Start the Conversation briefing sessions to the workforce on the M4 and M3 smart motorway projects.

Works manager Declan McComb delivered mental health TBT (toolbox talk) briefings.

Several people attended site and put up our Construction Worker Helpline posters to signpost people to help if they want it.

Concrete finisher and mental health first aider Carl Walmsley wrote a blog about ways to boost our mental wellbeing, for us to share on our website and on social media.

If you want help with your mental health, we have listed lots of places you can get free, confidential support and advice on our web page.