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Nottingham College – Nicola Finney, Communications Manager

Nottingham College construction students work together to break the stigma around men’s mental health.

When learning about mental health as part of their tutorial programme, a group of Nottingham College construction students studying Plastering and Carpentry & Joinery heard the shocking figures from the Office for National Statistics, that workers in construction are almost four times more likely to take their own lives than in other sectors. With some of the students themselves experiencing their own mental health issues, the group decided to take action!

Thanks to their campaigning and fundraising efforts, plans are now well underway to create a new ‘wellbeing hub’ on their college premises, providing a safe haven for students to visit in-between their classes if they need some down time. The facility, which is set to open this September, aims to create a calm and welcoming environment for students to visit if they need some quiet time to destress, as well as access wellbeing support if they need it.

Level 2 Plastering student, Caleb Sansom, is one of three students leading on the project. He was recently named runner-up in the Nottinghamshire Police Youth Outreach team’s ‘Live our Best Life’ awards, in the category of Bringing People Together. After battling with his own mental health challenges in the past, he is now passionate about supporting others. He said:

“Coming from a construction background, and also dealing with my own mental health issues, I know this is a real issue. Being able to lead my group and make a difference for us all, feels fantastic and to be recognised in Live our Best Life awards was such a bonus.

“We all get along great on my course, and learning about mental health in our personal and social development sessions was amazing. This whole experience has been insightful, it has even made me look at different careers. I’d still like to be in construction, but I want to be a therapist and support mental health in the construction industry.”

Carl Ara, Assistant Principal – Basford, said: “When a small group of students approached me with their proposal, I asked them to gather some more student feedback and come back to me with some firm ideas. They soon returned, but this time the group had tripled in size! It was clear this was a topic close to their hearts and that they were determined to make it a success. I’m so proud of all their hard work and the support they’ve received from their tutors. I’m sure this space will make a huge difference.”

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