Ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, we got to know our new Well-Being First Aider, Malcolm Hazel who’s on a mission to help others (men in particular) speak up if they are struggling and embrace the support that’s available to them.

Malcolm recently joined Fulcrum as Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Manager, based out of our office in Suffolk.  He is often out on sites across the south of England and has become our fourth Well-Being First Aider, using his time out in the field to be available to colleagues who might need his support.

“The importance of health and safety has been drummed into me since I started in the construction trade as a teenager and has been a major focus throughout my career.  Whilst there has always been a lot of emphasis on safety and physical health, mental health hasn’t always been given equal prominence. 
 
I can see, in the short time I’ve been at Fulcrum, that this business places huge importance on the wellbeing of its people and I am determined to play a part in that.

It was never my intention to be a health and safety specialist, I kind of fell into it after I became a welder on gas pipelines for a previous employer.  When the legislation changed requiring businesses to have a health and safety rep, I was voted into the job for being late to the staff meeting!
  
They say never be late for a meeting, it turns out it was the best thing I could have done!  I found my vocation having done so many courses and qualifications to ensure I can be the best at what I do and make a difference to the business I work for and the people I work with.  That, of course, includes mental health and I am committed to helping change perceptions, particularly, but not exclusively, among men, that wellbeing should be discussed and there are people and services that can help.

People often find it easier to build walls around themselves rather than showing how they feel.  It’s a societal and cultural thing that we need to change.  For example, we often ask each other, ‘how was your weekend?’ or ‘how was the film?’, but we never seriously ask, ‘how are you?’ 

Getting people to talk about how they feel is often the hardest thing, but it's important to give them the opportunity and the support if they want to do so.  That’s why I became a Well-Being First Aider.  It’s a very privileged position and, although I’m not medically trained or able to give specific advice, I can give colleagues the opportunity to talk.  We all know that carrying problems around with us puts a weight on our shoulders.  Speaking to someone can help lift that weight, even if it doesn’t immediately solve things.

What I and my fellow first aiders at Fulcrum can do is signpost colleagues to a range of support services that are out there, some of which can be accessed through GPs and other things such as apps like ‘Calm’ or ‘Headspace’ that can be of help.

Working out in the field as I do, I like to make myself available to team leaders and site crews, so they know I am around and on hand if they need me.  We have some excellent team leaders who know their engineers really well.  This is just as important for wellbeing as it is from a project delivery perspective.

Over the last 18 months all our lives have changed, which will have had a different degree of impact on everyone’s mental health. That’s why it’s more important than ever to remove barriers and change perceptions of talking about this vital aspect of our lives.

Hopefully, through our Well-Being First Aiders we can help colleagues take the first step to getting any support they might need".

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