October 21st 2022

Don’t let problems build up – Let’s talk

Adam Rowe: Site Manager

Five years ago, Phoenix Brickwork saved my life.

I was struggling with my mental health, problems built up and I was seriously considering whether I wanted to be here or not.

Then I did something that perhaps isn’t considered very manly – I reached out for help. There, waiting for me, was some solid support which helped get me through a very difficult time in my life.

I’ll never forget it – and now I’m strong and well, I want everyone to know that I’m here for them too.

Working in construction is a very masculine environment. You’re expected to get on with your work, cause little fuss because you’re self-employed, and not let your problems get in the way of your working day.

You can’t cry, announce you’re having an ‘off day’ or let your team know that your head is filled with problems, worries and anxiety. You’re a ‘brickie’ – man up!

But all this needs to change. And it is not just men who suffer with mental health issues. Women working in the construction industry also find life hard sometimes.

The way we treat men and women at work needs to be better and I, for one, have changed the way I treat my team on site.

It is vitally important to recognise when someone is struggling with mental health issues. On World Mental Health Day 2022, the theme has been ‘make mental health and well-being for all, a global priority’.

I endorse this and I want everyone to know that my door is always open.

Mental health awareness is a topic extremely close to my heart. I could speak forever on how important mental health awareness should – and needs to be – better.

We often spend more time at work than we do with our family, so changes we make in the office, or on the building site, can really impact at home.

At Phoenix, we see staff mental health as a priority. I care deeply about the team I manage. I talk to them, give them my personal telephone number, and keep an eye on them.

When pressures are high, it’s not easy to come forward and mention that something’s wrong - but things are changing.

At the heart of Phoenix is our Chairman, Christian Watson, an incredible human being who reached out to me in my hour of need.

He sent me a message, offered me a job and the rest, they say, is history. That was five whole years ago, and life is incredibly happy for me now. I have solid employment, kids, and a lovely house.

But don’t think I’ve forgotten about the dark days. Speaking from experience, we need to open the door to our workforce; see through the barriers our teams put up and talk. Let’s do a lot of talking.

For a moment, show you’re human - offer support and a listening ear. Put your managerial role to one side and just get talking.

You might think you’re not being useful, but believe me, it means everything to someone who is battling with mental health problems.

I had a door opened to me and it made me who I am today.

Be the best person you can be, and be there for others no matter what. It doesn’t matter that we work in construction. It doesn’t matter that we’re a bunch of lads. What matters is that we are there for each other…