The Prince chats to workers at the site. Picture: Anthony Charlton, In-Press Photography Ltd
September 21, 2023
The Prince of Wales was visibly moved on a recent visit to North Acton on being told about the prevalence of suicide in the construction industry.
Prince William told construction workers that he met that he was determined to ‘normalise’ mental health issues as part of the drive to tackle the problem.
He had been invited by the mental health charity Mates in Mind and the construction company Mace to the massive Microsoft data centre project at the Powergate site on 13 September, a few days after World Suicide Prevention Day
Prince William has been committed to supporting men’s mental health and suicide prevention for many years highlighting what is the largest cause of death for men under the age of 35. He was told that workers in construction are at some of the highest risk of suicide in the country, with rates in the industry nearly four times higher than the national average.
The Prince heard from Mates in Mind about the expertise that they provide across the industry, including contractors, supply chains and policy makers, to bring change that is needed to improve mental wellbeing and the factors that contribute towards this in the sector.
Mates in Mind has worked closely with hundreds of companies over recent years and is committed to recognise the pressures faced by construction workers and explore how the industry can adapt from within to address these issues head on.
During the visit a roundtable, including members representing a wide variety of roles and perspectives from across the construction industry shared their personal experiences, and the impact mental health has on their personal and work lives, their family, friends and colleagues.
The Prince heard more about the initiatives that Mace are operating in partnership with Mates in Mind across their sites to support the people that work on their construction projects, including improving understanding and awareness of mental health through the provision of workshops and training, and enabling those who are at risk of mental health issues to access the right support at the right time.
He said, "We want to help empower people to speak about their problems in a safe space and ensure mental health is embedded in everything we do. It’s important everyone has the ability to be open."
The Prince dons a hard hat to see the work in progress. Picture: Anthony Charlton, In-Press Photography Ltd
Sarah Meek, Managing Director, Mates in Mind said, “We were truly honoured to host a visit from The Prince of Wales today, to discuss the importance of focusing on prevention, rather than crisis management, to reduce the unacceptably high number of suicides in the construction industry. As a charity we aim to ensure that no-one experiences mental ill-health through their work. Therefore, it was a wonderful opportunity during this visit to be able to raise awareness of mental health, to start conversations about the issues and contributory factors faced at all levels within construction, the impact that arises, and continue eradicating the stigma of mental ill-health and the barriers that surround it.”
Mike Barford, Mace’s Project Director, said, “It was a real honour to meet with The Prince of Wales and share some of the work that we’ve been doing with our site team to support them with their mental health. The culture around mental health and wellbeing in our industry is improving, but far too slowly – and we know if we want to make a real difference we need genuine cultural change. I hope that moments like this one can help to drive that shift in attitude.”
Sarah Meek concluded “We are truly grateful to The Prince for spending the time learning about the issues, the charity and the transformational work underway. I would personally like to thank everyone who made the visit possible, including our friends at Mace, Logan Price (MPB Structures), Jordan Smith (SM5 Developments), Steve Hails and others in making this visit such a success.”
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