Angie’s our Mental Health First Aider

August 1, 2022


Findings from a survey by Mates in Mind of over 300 respondents suggests that almost a third of construction workers are living with elevated levels of anxiety each day.

Similarly, a report by the Chartered Institute of Building spotlights the mental health problems suffered by construction workers, revealing that 56% of construction professionals work for organisations with no policies on mental health in the workplace.

Unfortunately, Covid has accelerated what was already a trend within the industry before the pandemic; with employees who started working remotely from home potentially feeling pressed into being more productive, to demonstrate they could function from their homes in the wake of the Covid storm.

36% of employees said their psychological wellbeing had declined due to increased working time during lockdown.

Employees with depression, anxiety, and stress must be supported out of obvious concerns for their wellbeing. But it isn’t good for productivity either when they’re off sick or underperforming because they’re facing an internal crisis.

Whilst you naturally worry about your employees for their own sake, you also need to find people to fill in and do their tasks.

Many UK companies are increasingly focussing on the issue of mental health. Even though the pandemic has raised awareness, many employees have already suffered from mental stress.

A structure with stability.

Faced with the unprecedented task of dealing with Covid-19, at Harwood we responded quickly with several initiatives to support our employees. In the process, we tried a lot of things and kept learning. For example, we’ve long known the value of open communication, but with the outbreak of the pandemic, it became even more critical.

As quickly as possible, we decided on a clear company plan for addressing the pandemic. This plan allowed us to do our best to reassure our employees about their job security and address any concerns.

We focussed on three main priorities: the safety and well-being of employees and their families, our contribution to containing the rate of infection, and ensuring the long-term stability of our company.

At Harwood, we recognise the importance of not only looking after our team’s physical well-being, but also ensuring everyone has access to mental health support and encouraging open conversations between managers and individuals.

There to care.

Our Health & Safety Technical Manager, Angie Coomber, has recently become a Mental Health First Aider, completing a globally recognised course in MHFA covering a wide range of mental health problems.

Angie explains more about what interested her about the course, and what it entailed: “I wanted to participate in an important conversation about mental well-being. Having worked in early years education in the past, I’ve always been interested in helping people. The course took place over ten weeks, and was comprehensive, with lots to learn.

“We learned how to recognise and address signs of ill mental health in others at an early stage. We acquired basic knowledge about various mental health disorders and crises and learned how to provide targeted support and information.

“There’s a good culture in place at Harwood around mental health awareness”, continues Angie, “Having someone who can be a First Aider for such issues is hopefully going to be common for all companies in the future.”

Explaining how her training will be put in practice at Harwood, Angie says: “Initially, it’s likely to just be a conversation, since a lot of people haven’t heard of Mental Health First Aid. Once people know about it, I’d like to have some chats with the right people and help others understand what I’ve learned in the course.”

Stop stigma, encourage empathy.

Normalising the discussion of mental health is very important. In our HR team, we encourage managers to talk openly about handling mental stress. This openness makes employees feel more comfortable should they need to ask for support themselves.

Harwood’s Commercial Director, Ben Cheeseman, said: ” I am proud of Angie for doing this course and paving the way for more staff at Harwood to play a positive role in helping colleagues who might be struggling.

“Harwood continues to put resources into mental well-being because we want to be part of an industry change where nobody suffers in silence.  We look forward to welcoming more Mental Health First Aiders into our company.”

To find out more about some of the public organisations in place that can help with mental health support, visit

Visit LinkedIn to connect with Angie directly.