Promoting good mental health in the workplace

2 May 2019

"Lendlease has long recognised that health is as important as safety. Our people are our most important asset and are critical to the success of our business."

An Interview with Brian Van Campenhout, Head of Environmental Health and Safety at Lendlease, Europe:

What is Lendlease doing to promote good mental health in the workplace? 

Lendlease has long recognised that health is as important as safety. Our people are our most important asset and are critical to the success of our business. Therefore, it’s important that we ensure they’re supported during their careers with us. That includes offering them tools that aid good health and wellbeing, as well as offering them diverse and challenging roles.  

Our Mental Health First Aiders operate across our projects and offices ensuring support is always available to our colleague with private healthcare insurance and an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to provide professional support. We also offer targeted training initiatives around specific issues such as stress management and mindfulness and are in the process of developing more. 

Most of us spend longer at work than we do at home, so shouldn’t these things just be a given? 

As a society we’re still becoming comfortable with talking about our mental health and that is reflected in working culture. Sadly, the male-dominated construction industry has one of the highest suicide rates of any profession. This correlates with what we know about men and how they internalise stress. If we want things to change we must be proactive and that’s what we’ve done, and encouragingly many other companies are doing the same. 

What do you hope will come from taking part in MIND’s workplace wellbeing index? 

It’s useful to be benchmarked against other companies; to learn what else we can do and ensure we’re as far ahead as we can be. I’m keen for us to continually improve our offering and we can’t do that unless we know what our people find useful and where our strengths lie.

Are there any things that you do at work that help you maintain good mental health and may help others?

Recognising my own limits and acknowledging that I’m triggered by certain behaviours or actions has enabled me to put in place coping mechanisms. These stop me from reacting in a way that negatively impacts me or the situation I’m in. 

I also think it’s important that people are encouraged to find a work/life balance that works for them and the teams they work in including utilising any/or all the resources available through our business. 

There’s a lot of emphasis on flexible working now, have you found it has a positive impact on employees? 

All our employees are encouraged to work flexibly but we know that more needs to be done to make it possible for people to do it, especially on site, including changing culture and how we think we “should work”. Which is why we’ve completed a study of flexible working and how it works on a construction site, we’ll be sharing the findings soon.

What’s next, do you think we’ll start to see more companies championing workplace wellbeing? 

We’re founding members of the industry wide Building Mental Health programme - an initiative led by industry champions, providing support and advice to increase awareness of mental health - and are certainly trying to get more businesses involved.