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Written by Charlotte Ashmore
on September 10, 2021

Steel & Tube is proud to support MATES in Construction for another year. Formally launched in October of 2019, MATES in Construction is committed to opening communication channels, changing the on-site culture and sharing knowledge of suicide prevention in New Zealand’s construction industry. It’s all about mates helping and supporting one another.

Anna Morris, General Manager – People & Culture at Steel & Tube, says: “The reality is that construction and construction-related industries have more instances of suicide and depression than almost every other sector. We believe that as an employer we can help change things - make it easier for people to share what’s going on and know that they’re supported through their job to get some help. MATES does an awesome job of breaking down some of the barriers and changing the culture for our sector”.

For MATES in Construction, reducing the stigma associated with mental health in the workplace is critical. At Steel & Tube, we have worked to cultivate an open and trusting environment in which employees are encouraged to access mental health and wellness services.

Steel & Tube’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Malpass, says: “Recognising World Suicide Prevention Day is an important step towards raising awareness for all of us to look after ourselves and our mates at work and at home”.

For the wellbeing of our communities, MATES in Construction is asking New Zealanders to start conversations about suicide prevention within the construction industry. This empowers us all to better support our mates and to reach out if we ourselves need support.

“The MATES team “get us” at Steel & Tube - they’re an awesome team dedicated to helping people through some of the challenges that come up in life that can feel insurmountable – they quickly make you feel at ease and are really good at what they do”, says Anna.

As an inaugural member, Steel & Tube spoke with Victoria McArthur, General Manager of MATES in Construction NZ, when the organisation launched in New Zealand in 2019. At the time, she said: “On-site, it’s sometimes just noticing a change in your mate, and then simply asking, ‘are you ok? We are working to equip people on-site to recognise the signs that can lead to suicide, start conversations about suicide and connect them to help. We want to ensure that we let those that are struggling know that they’re not alone”.

Victoria continues: “There are so many factors that contribute to suicide risk in the industry, including work-related stress, long hours, job insecurity and things outside work like relationship breakdowns. One of the biggest factors is our men being stoic, and not seeking help. It’s ok to talk to your mates about it”.

Today, MATES in Construction has three key areas of focus:

  1. To advance mental health and social services in New Zealand by promoting the prevention and control of mental illnesses for people engaged in the construction industry
  2. Providing leadership for our people to gain better access to mental health services
  3. Building a stronger, more resilient workforce.

“The pressures of life impact all of us differently. I’m a believer in education and life-long learning. I’ve watched most of the MATES in Construction videos. They provide some great wellbeing advice and tips for all of us”, says Mark.

World Suicide Prevention Day is Friday, 10 September 2021. MATES in Construction invites Kiwis to light a candle in their window at 8pm on this day as an act of acknowledgement demonstrating support for suicide prevention, to remember a lost loved one and for the survivors of suicide. Watch the video here. 

Steel & Tube is pleased to support an organisation doing such important work in our community. 

If you would like to learn more about MATES in Construction or explore its resources, click here.

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