Supporting mental health awareness in engineering: insights from Alice Chaplin

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Tetra Tech Coffey’s General Manager of New Zealand, Alice Chaplin, supports mental health awareness in engineering and shares how we can all work together to remove the stigma around mental health.

Recently I was invited to be a guest panellist at the Engineering a Great Place to Work event held by Engineering New Zealand, with topics addressing Health, Safety, Wellbeing, and Diverse and Inclusive workplaces.

It’s great to see more organisations investing in mental wellbeing in our workplaces and helping to remove the fear or social inhibitions of talking about mental health.

With one in five people experiencing some form of mental illness, organisations have a clear need to put in place the education and framework needed to support their employees.

Recognising the stressful and high pressure environment engineers cope with daily, Engineering New Zealand is one such industry body helping to drive a positive mental health approach for its members. Delivered through the Engineering New Zealand Foundation, this content rich resource is dedicated to helping engineers learn how to cope with stress,  maintain positive mental health and when to seek advice and help.

I love working in engineering and embrace the challenges it provides me daily. However, I also recognise that these very same challenges can easily turn into a struggle for some. Reaching out and having a conversation or asking for help can be extremely difficult at such times. One of my aims is to normalise conversations about mental health difficulties, so that we all find it as easy to talk about as a physical health condition.

As a leader, this year I have put mental wellbeing top of my agenda to ensure our NZ  business has the skills needed to help our people have these conversations. Through St John a number of our line managers and H&S representatives will be undergoing training to become qualified Mental Health First Aiders. It’s small step and we have a long way to go to have a fully developed support framework, but its one way we are putting mental wellbeing front of mind.  I genuinely hope that when the time comes, this training may help someone towards positive mental health.

I encourage all of you, if you have not already to reach out and talk to your colleagues and really listen to what they say to you and be present for the conversation. Our industry is all about our people and the incredible things we can achieve working together, creating a better world for all.  We should all be striving to work in caring and compassionate workplaces where we look out for each other’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Links and resources

Managing your Mental Health – Engineering New Zealand

St John Mental Health First Aid

Mental First Aid Australia 

Heads Up – resources, information and advice for individuals and businesses to create more mentally healthy workplaces.

Beyond Blue – information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.

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