Aideen Jeffrey and Lisa Haycock from Farrans Construction are presented with the ‘Wellbeing in the Workplace - Large’ Award by Annette McManus, group marketing & communications manager for The Irish News

Farrans’ mental health training programme is breaking down barriers

AT Farrans, which has a staff of 550, its innovative mental health training programme breaks down the barriers to support those within the construction industry.

The company says: “We know that our best asset is our people, therefore we continue to invest significantly in the wellbeing, physical and mental, of all our employees, across all locations. We strive to be innovative and forward thinking in our approach to mental health in the construction sector.

“Several years ago, we found a gap in support for our employees. The routine of travel, and the move from project to project, new locations, with new people can sometimes be challenging and isolating.

“We took this opportunity to speak to our people, and feedback from managers offered us a better understanding of the openness to conversations around mental health but a lack of training was holding people back, specifically on how to best manage potential situations arising from these conversations.”

With the feedback received, Farrans now has a dedicated Mental Health Champion in Lisa Haycock, who spearheads the company’s training programme and has created its Well.Together Strategy.
An important part of that strategy is its bespoke and innovative ‘Have the Conversation’ training session which is currently being rolled out after being paused during the pandemic restrictions.

Farrans genuinely meets the needs of its 550-plus people and truly lives up to its overall goal, which is to treat mental health with the same responsiveness and training than it does with physical health

Farrans’ Well.Together Strategy and its passion for mental health and wellbeing are seen as vital, given that suicide rates in the construction industry have been rising, even before the pandemic struck in 2020.

“We want to create a space where our people feel, if they need, they can reach out and seek help, and we want to ensure our people are trained should those conversations happen,” Lisa says.

With buy-in and support from the board of directors, time and financial resources were agreed and so the task of building an awareness and education around mental health in Farrans was placed in Lisa’s hands, and in the past three years she has been a positive force for change in delivering a range of initiatives to support employees.

This includes developing the successful Well Together campaign which has rolled out to Mates in Mind training to support 400-plus sub-contractors.

With increased awareness, training and support around using the Healthshield app, Farrans has seen a 100 per cent increase in people availing of the services it offers, and employees feel more confident when ‘Having the Conversation’ and approaching those who might need help.

Indeed a testimonial from one attendee reads: “I was glad of the opportunity to attend the ‘Have the Conversation’ training. As a mental health first aider and working across various sites and projects, I want to be as well informed and confident in my role as possible. The training and those involved offered sound advice and discussions around the role plays allowed for different views and scenarios to be played out and better understood. Following on from the training, I feel better equipped to deal with these difficult conversations and know appropriate resources to assist with further help. I will be encouraging colleagues to attend any future sessions.”