When three managers of construction businesses learnt the suicide rate was three times higher in their industry than any others employing men, they put their heads together and did something about it.
The three women were at a NSW government ‘Get Healthy at Work’ presentation at Katoomba when they heard the sobering statistic, and decided to fight back by getting their employees together for a day of health education, suicide prevention information and good healthy competition.
This happened last Friday, March 24 at The Trees Adventure Grose River Park at Yarramundi.
The extent of the suicide problem was rammed home to them on the day when Stainless Steel Worx business manager Teresa Henson said they asked the 30-odd attendees if they knew someone who had suicided.
“Three quarters of the hands went up,” she said. It came as a real shock.
Ms Henson said she and the managers from Blue Eco Homes at Yellow Rock and Woodford Homes at Woodford had planned the day for six months.
“Our employees and their health are important, not just for us as employers but in an era where more and more people are neglecting their health and wellbeing, this is an opportunity to make a difference,” Ms Henson said.
A team from ‘Get Healthy at Work’ gave a presentation on healthy eating and weight, physical activity, quitting smoking and cutting back alcohol. They also provided individual health checks via a blood sample. The charity Mates in Construction, started in 2008 to reduce the high level of suicide in construction workers, also presented, as did a nutritionist/life coach, and a fitness instructor. “The Mates in Construction program is based on the simple idea that ‘suicide is everyone’s business’ and that if the building and construction industry is to improve the mental health of workers and reduce suicide then it cannot be left to the professionals - everyone in the industry must play their part,” Ms Henson said.
Teams from the three companies then competed in the Treetops Challenge on ropes and flying foxes. Blue Eco Homes came out on top. Ms Henson said everyone got involved, from blokes in their 20s to their 60s, and it was such a success they will now hold the day annually.
“They were swinging like monkeys on the ropes – everybody did it,” she said. “Everyone was genuinely interested. [Macquarie MP] Susan Templeman came along and stayed for three hours.
“We would now like to encourage other businesses to invest in their employees’ health and wellbeing.”
- If you are feeling down call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or get depression information from beyondBlue on 1300 224 636.