INCOLINK BLUEHATS CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY SUICIDE AWARENESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAM

Persons making the nomination: Dr Gerard Ayers, PhD, MAppSci, GradDipOHM, OHS&E Manager, CFMEU C&G Div, Vic/Tas Branch [email protected] Patricia McCourt, Executive General Manager Member Services [email protected] Name of Nominated Organization & Program Incolink BLUEHATS CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY SUICIDE AWARENESS AND PREVENTION PROGRAM Incolink provides a safety net for workers in the Victorian and Tasmanian commercial building and construction industry where permanency and continuity of employment are significant issues. Our members get the security of redundancy payments, portable sick leave, income protection insurance and industry-best training. Through sound investment of member entitlements, we fund health and wellbeing supports like counselling and mental health services to build a stronger industry and support workers when they need us. Offering a comprehensive approach to health, Incolink’s Wellbeing and Support Services encompasses a team of passionate counsellors with expertise in facilitating counselling support, mental health education and critical incident response. Via the Health Bus, Incolink provides workplace health services such as COVID testing, flu vaccinations, prostate and skin checks. Further services include financial rights counselling and family drug support services. More information can be found here: https://incolink.org.au/wellbeing-support-services Project: Bluehats Incolink’s Bluehats Suicide Prevention Program was developed in bi-partisan partnership with unions and employers to address the increasing suicide rates among workers and support their wellbeing. Proudly supported by Cbus Super and WorkSafe, Bluehats is a gatekeeper model of suicide prevention; a peer support network of workers supporting workers. Bluehats challenges the stigma surrounding suicide by encouraging help-seeking and help-offering behaviours. The training provides psychoeducation on the risk factors for suicide, and the promotion of good mental health in prevention of suicidal behaviour. Bluehats is a four-tiered, evidence-based multimodal program delivered to all workers throughout Victoria and Tasmania, comprised of the following: 1. General Awareness Session (GAS) A one-hour mental health and suicide prevention session delivered to all workers on construction sites. From this introductory session, workers can self-nominate to become a Bluehat. 2. Bluehats Training To become a Bluehat, workers firstly participate in an induction appointment with a counsellor for safety and risk assessment. Secondly, workers complete an online training program facilitated by LivingWorks Start. Lastly, workers are provided a four-hour training session on how to identify individuals who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide and Link-Up to resources and supports. 3. Ongoing support Bluehats receive the ongoing support of the Incolink Wellbeing and Support Services team via counselling and a 24/7 telephone counselling service. Bluehats are also invited to attend an annual Bluehats conference, encouraged to participate in professional development and receive regular digital communications. The Incolink team routinely facilitate mental-health toolbox talks on construction sites to promote the key message of Bluehats: “Let’s Talk.” 4. Research and evaluation In partnership with Dr. Kylie King from the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health at Monash University and a funding grant from Suicide Prevention Australia, Incolink is undertaking research on the Bluehats Program in 2021-2022. The evaluation seeks to understand the factors influencing efficacy of the Bluehats program and will adopt recommendations to optimise the training across the construction industry. Where is the organisation, project or individual you are nominating based? Incolink is a Victorian-based organisation located in Melbourne. Describe the issue that the organisation, project or individual you are nominating aims to address? In Australia, 3318 individuals died by suicide in 2019. That is 2502 males and 816 females. The construction industry is inherently male dominated and employs a substantial percentage of the Australian workforce. Workers across the building and construction industry are at elevated risk of suicide and mental health issues. This trend is observed in Australia and internationally. The workplace stressors emphasised in this cohort are job insecurity, low job control, excessive job demands, poor work relationships, and workplace culture – all risk factors for poor mental health. Please tell us what evidence you have to show that the organisation, project or individual is making a difference? Since the launch of Bluehats in 2018, our Incolink counselling service has observed a 270% increase in workers presenting to counselling with suicidal ideation. Quantitatively, this demonstrates an increase in help-seeking behaviour in this population. The Incolink team has facilitated over 200 Bluehats General Awareness Sessions to approximately 5100 workers on sites in Victoria and Tasmania. That’s over 5100 workers that have learned how to take care of their mental health and how to look out for their workmates on site. And most importantly, those 5100 workers now know about the increased risk of suicide in this industry and where to get help. Incolink has now trained over 300 Bluehats. Bluehats know what signs to look for that someone might be thinking about suicide, and they know how to ask to right questions. These Bluehats are workers that put their hand up to support the industry, to Link Up their fellow workmates and help them access the resources and supports they need. The COVID pandemic in 2020 resulted in Incolink having to respond the needs of the industry in a flexible way. Recently, Bluehats has been redeveloped for digital delivery. This new digital capability means we have greater reach into regional areas and an ability to support workers in the event of unpredictable COVID restrictions. Please tell us why you think the organisation, project or individual you are nominating should win a Men’s Health Award this year. Incolink is uniquely positioned to address mental health issues in the construction industry and make a positive difference to workers and their families. While Incolink has provided mental health and wellbeing services and education to the industry for over 30 years, a targeted approach to addressing these issues was realised in 2018. Incolink’s Bluehats Suicide Prevention Program and wellbeing support services are consistent with the Australian National Suicide Prevention Strategy and the LIFE Framework. Multimodal in delivery, Bluehats provides universal community focused suicide prevention education, selective and indicated interventions for those at higher risk, symptom identification and early treatment, and ongoing psychosocial treatment to individuals that have attempted suicide and to those bereaved. Incolink’s Wellbeing and Support Services team is proud to support the mental health of the construction industry and their families. Men from the industry have benefited through increased awareness of poor mental health symptoms in themselves and others; They have benefited by receiving self-help tools and resilience strategies through education and counselling. They have importantly, been encouraged to develop help-seeking behaviours and been provided guidance for where (and who) to go to for help. We believe our work is worthy of the esteemed recognition bestowed by the Australian’s Men’s Health Awards. We thank you for your consideration.

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