CITB is investing £90,000 to fund a pilot scheme which will provide mental health support for apprentices from the start of their construction industry careers.

Optima UK Ltd will train further education construction tutors to be Mental Health First Aiders so they can support construction apprentices during their learning. Apprentices will also be given mental health awareness training in bite size four hour sessions. This will mean the apprentices have the knowledge and education during learning, at the start of, and throughout, their career in construction. There will also be one-to-one support.

The team at Optima UK are all set to go and will begin training both instructors and apprentices in September.

The courses will be run by trainers accredited by Mental Health First Aid England and deliver 29 courses, all with 16 delegates, to hubs of colleges across the UK. In the space of a year, they will have trained 464 tutors and 464 apprentices, as well as offered one-to-one support to around 100 apprentices.

The CITB investment comes after a study compiled by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and CITB, highlighted the toll poor mental health is taking. Research* showed 26% of construction workers had experienced suicidal thoughts and 91% felt overwhelmed. Tragically, two construction workers take their own lives each day.

CITB CEO Tim Balcon, said:

“We need to make sure everyone is at ease talking about their mental health and this comes down to a culture of making it OK to speak up… giving apprentices the confidence to do that from day one, will hopefully make them feel supported in the industry. When staff are supported and happy in their work, and in my view, they will stay in the industry longer.”

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