Building Mental Health through NFDC

It feels like a lifetime ago since my first article for the NFDC was published in Demolition & Dismantling way back in 2018.

The article was titled ‘Everyone is talking about mental health – but what is it?’ It seemed at the time we were at the very beginning of our individual and collective journey into how Mental Ill Health affects our people and as a result our business and its productivity.

It is not surprising that since then the subject of mental health and wellbeing has snowballed with all main media outlets, as well as our industry, pushing the mental health agenda. The added focus the topic has seen has no doubt helped to address and reduce the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health, hopefully ensuring we are all now more aware of how mental ill health can affect us. And just as importantly helping us to feel more willing to talk about our own mental health.

We know by now that the statistics speak for themselves and continue to highlight how common the problem really is with approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year and in England, 1 in 6 people reportedly experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week.

Unfortunately, and probably not surprisingly, it has been widely reported that the outbreak of Covid-19 will only exacerbate this issue over, at least, the next two years. An analysis published in May by the Centre for Mental Health forecasted that at least half a million more people in the UK may experience mental ill health as a result of Covid-19. I think this figure is somewhat conservative and I’m sure we can all relate to ourselves and our loved ones feeling an increase in levels of stress and anxiety over the last four months.

High levels of stress are only forecast to continue amongst the general population with many people still worried about finances, job security or how a second wave may affect us, to name but a few. From a business perspective, I am sure there are also many concerns about how we may recover from the pandemic. The demolition industry is no different and the NDFC has recently published lessons learnt from the members throughout this period so we continue to learn, support and focus our collective efforts. The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has also published its Roadmap to Recovery on behalf of the wider industry and gives us a good indication of what the future of the industry looks like.

The roadmap aims to support increased activity in the construction industry following the pandemic with the objective to drive industry recovery, and thus the wider UK economy following the current economic downturn. The demolition industry has been regarded as critical since the formal conception of the NFDC during the 2nd World War and still today the UK government sees the whole construction industry as being uniquely placed to lead the national economic recovery. The sector employs 3.1m workers, exports billions of pounds of products and services and
generates an economic output of over £410 billion, 8.6% of GDP which is nearly 4x the combined annual output of the aerospace and automotive industries.

The CLC, as highlighted in the roadmap, anticipates the recovery from Covid-19 will be gradual, lost output for example is forecast to take c.2years to recover. Taking that into consideration, the industry plan is split into three key phases, Restart (1-3 months), Reset (3-12 months) and Reinvent (12+ months).

You may be asking yourself, what has the CLC’s roadmap for recovery got to do with mental health? Well, the roadmap focuses on six different industry priorities that need to be delivered, these are procure for better value, skills, building safety, net zero carbon, innovation, and fair practices.

If we drill down in to more detail on two of these we can see where the drive for better mental health contributes and opportunities for the demolition industry exist.

Extract from the Roadmap to Recovery

  • Skills – increasing skills levels and helping the industry adapt to change, building a more professional industry, embedding high standards of site safety, and improving occupational and
    mental health.
  • Building Safety – ensuring remediation work can continue, and ensure the sector is reformed to create a legacy of safe building.

It also seems that this is becoming common place in procurement of demolition services and it is being reported by both members and from various clients that the requirement to tackle mental ill health in your workforce is here to stay. An example of this is the biggest building and infrastructure project in Europe, HS2 has now made it mandatory for everyone who in any way touches or works on the project to be mental health aware. They are not alone and these requirements often follow the Building Mental Health Charter as these are:

  • Providing awareness and understanding of the impact of poor mental health and promoting positive mental health through facilitated workshops with the aims of
    a) Reducing stigma and discrimination
    b) Encouraging conversation in the workplace
  • Educating and enabling champions from across the workplace to support keeping our people safe.
  • Provide access to accredited mental health first aid training and providing assistance to signpost workers to support.

NFDC’s decision to sign the Building Mental Health Charter in 2018 was
intended to help you meet these requirements and for us to come together
to make our industry happier, healthier, safer and more productive.

What can you access via NFDC and NDTG?

  • Digital ‘Start the Conversation’ toolbox talk for all employees
  • Pocket cards, guidance leaflets, posters and other free resources
  • Mental Health First Aid provision

NFDC has been defining its strategy for the maintenance and refreshment of the mental health and wellbeing initiative for the remainer of 2020 and beyond. We are pleased to reveal that all Corporate Members will soon be receiving a Corporate Toolkit in the post, containing valuable resources to be used with employees. In addition, NFDC will be developing a Mental Health hub online at later this year to centralise all information and resources in one place. This hub will include the provision of a modular mental health learning series in on-demand video format.

Now more than ever we need to support our people and each other and the NFDC is here to help.

Dave Price,
Managing Director,
Vector Equilibrium Ltd


NFDC signs the Building Mental Health Charter

NFDC commits to delivering a mental health and wellbeing programme to its members

MARCH 2019
NFDC announces the programme to members at the AGM

MAY 2019
NFDC Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Ambassador workshops accredited by Continuous Professional Development (CPD) service

JUNE 2019
First delivery of the half day NFDC Mental Awareness workshop

NFDC Mental Health Awareness workshop goes on the road with workshops delivered in the North East and North West

JULY 2019
Digital ‘Start the Conversation’ toolbox talk screened at Demo Expo

NFDC Mental Health Awareness workshop delivered in Midlands and Wales region

First delivery of the full day NFDC Mental Health Awareness and Wellbeing Ambassador workshops

MARCH 2020
COVID-19 Pandemic. A series of practical self-help articles and a voiced-over PowerPoint resource issued to Members on a rolling basis

JULY 2020
NFDC defines maintenance strategy for Mental Health & Wellbeing initiative, to include new on-demand resources