Six, Five, Four, Three, Two One – Mental Health Liftoff

Episode six of the DGCOS and National Home Improvement Council mental health and wellbeing podcast series is now available – as are episodes five, four, three, two and one.

Accessing debt support and achieving financial health is the final instalment.

Greg Jenkinson, a debt advisor from StepChange, one of the best UK impartial and free debt advisory services; and Michael McGougan, DGCOS head of membership. discuss ways in which to take control of your financial position, minimise your financial stress and understand what support is available.

They also discuss the options around debt solutions and how DGCOS supports its members’ financial health.


What is financial health?

We all need to be able to maintain our day-to-day budgets. Good financial health is being able to pay bills on time and have some left for personal use. Poor financial health is where you become reliant upon credit, not able to pay those important bills and find that you are juggling too much.

Contributing factors will have a knock-on effect with your financial health. You could unexpectedly be out of work for reasons outside your control or have a physical injury and those days/weeks off could have a huge effect on cash flow.


Recognising your situation and taking control 

There is a misconception about debt that if you have it, you have failed. This is simply not true. It is so easy to take the approach of ‘I will deal with that another day’. The further down the line we push it, the further the worry increases.  A poor financial situation is not a reflection on the person themselves. Two thirds of people who find themselves in a poor situation have actually not been foolish with money.

There is no shame in asking for help and once you start to address the issue, the easier the steps become moving forward. One step could be as small as checking your bank statement each week and seeing where you could be more comfortable in making some little changes.


What support is out there?

StepChange offers free impartial debt advice on a personal and business level. They will listen and understand and will be able to advise on the best course of action dependant on your financial health. They are experts with many years of experience and will assist with arranging payment plans for loans and credit cards, or breathing space with organisations.

StepChange has a free, confidential online helpline that is available 24 hours a day 365 days a year

You can also speak to an advisor on 02800 138 1111 Monday to Friday 8:00am to 8:00pmpm and Saturday 9:00am to 200pm.

To listen to the podcasts – Click Here

Improving wellbeing and mental health – episode five

Dr Rachael Cooper and Cathy O’Hara have many years of experience in working with people with mental health issues, and they bring their vast knowledge to this podcast.

Dr Cooper has been a GP in Newcastle for 22 years and a significant amount of her work involves dealing with patients with mental health challenges. O’Hara started her career in HR for a construction firm and has worked for DGCOS for the last 16 years.


Identifying mental health problems

When patients approach Dr Cooper with mental health issues, they often use the word ‘stress’, where in reality what people are suffering from is anxiety or depression. Symptoms may include mild worrying to full-blown panic attacks, catastrophising that something bad will happen, an inability to get out of bed, lack of motivation, drinking too much and/or taking drugs, feeling restless and unsatisfied and not sleeping properly.



In the podcast, Dr Cooper also speaks about a little-known condition called anhedonia, which is the inability to enjoy yourself or find pleasure in anything. This is a recognised symptom of mental health conditions such as depression and can manifest in feeling numb, flat, and not being interested in anything. All these symptoms indicate that help is needed. It is important to acknowledge that suffering is not a weakness but a form of illness that needs to be treated.


Building resilience and self-care

Resilience is the ability to cope with situations and challenges and the better our physical and mental fitness, the better our resilience and the more we get out of life.

Looking after physical health is as important as taking care of our mental health and the connection between mind and body should not be underestimated. Exercise and being outdoors are both shown to have a positive impact on mood. Eating the right food, having hobbies, surrounding ourselves with positive people and finding support systems all go hand in hand in helping to boost our mental health. Developing a growth mindset and continuing to learn and develop are all positive habits to embrace.

To help with self-care, social media breaks, practising gratitude, listening to inspirational podcasts and using Apps are all tools that provide support. We are more likely now to be working in isolation so finding time to socialise with positive friends is important. Equally, bad habits need to be broken – drinking, drugs and bad eating habits and behaviours all contribute to a negative state of mind.


Organisations that can help

O’Hara and Dr Cooper highlight three organisations which have expertise in the area of mental health treatment:

Lighthouse provides support exclusively for workers in the construction industry. Mates in Mind is a charity which raises awareness and aims to destigmatise the conversation around mental health. Band of Builders specifically helps tradespeople in need. Mates in Mind has a free, confidential 24/7 hotline called Be A Mate, which is available to anyone in our industry. Just text HARDHAT free on 85258 and a trained volunteer will be available to help, whatever the issue. This is not just open to DGCOS members.

To listen to one or all of the podcasts – Click Here


Episode four – Taking a holistic approach to supporting your team

Martin Lockham, head of fundraising and growth at Mates in Mind and Louise Auld, DGCOS executive assistant discuss ways in which companies can support their staff who may be suffering with mental health issues and how important it is that there are cultural changes which enable us to destigmatise the issue to support open communication.


Communicate the message

The key to being able to recognise when a team member is struggling and being able to act on it is something we can all take responsibility for but the communication about mental health within organisations starts from the top. Culturally, we need to break down the stigma of mental health and accept it as an issue that can and should be openly discussed without embarrassment or fear.

Lockham and Auld both advocate taking a holistic approach to the wellbeing of employees, treating them as individuals and being able to create an environment where mental health does not just fall under the HR remit.


Look after each other

Key to having a healthy approach to mental health lies within all of us. Lockham suggests that all of us should be able to recognise the signs of stress and anxiety in ourselves to be able to act but also to be able to look after each other. Team members often know their colleagues well and can know if someone is not quite themselves. Having implicit permission to ask simply, ‘Are you OK?’ of each other and having the space to have that conversation is as important as having access to support systems and more formal help.


Employee support systems

Mates in Mind has a free, confidential 24/7 hotline called Be A Mate, which is available to anyone in our industry. Just text HARDHAT free on 85258 and a trained volunteer will be available to help. This is not just open to DGCOS members but to anyone in the industry who feels they would benefit from expert, confidential support.

To access the podcasts – Click Here

Picture: The autumn series of DGCOS & National Home Improvement Council podcasts is still available on any of the links above.

Article written by Cathryn Ellis
24th October 2023


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