#SeriouslySocial The Podcast
with Simone Douglas and special guest Karyn Dale
This episode of Seriously Social, Simone talks to Karyn Dale from Mates in Construction about mental health in the construction sector.
You can connect with Karyn and learn more about MATES in Construction here:
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Hosted by Simone Douglas
Videography by Marie Carbone and Shivam Wadhawan
Audio by Chris Irving
Music used in this episode is “Alte Herren” by KieLoKaz, used with permission under a Creative Commons Licence
This production is protected by a creative commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence.
Chris Irving 0:00
Welcome to the seriously social podcast with your host, Simone Douglas. This week, Simone chats with Karyn Dale from Mates in Construction. They talk about mental health in the construction sector, and about new approaches to helping people in need.
Simone Douglas 0:16
Okay, so on this week’s episode of seriously social the podcast, I have my very good friend Karyn Dale. Karen is the marketing and business development manager at Mates in Construction. Karen, thanks for coming along today.
Karyn Dale 0:29
Thank you for having me.
Simone Douglas 0:31
Can you just give our listeners the Cliff Notes version as to how you ended up here?
Karyn Dale 0:36
Yeah, okay. Well, I’ve been in marketing, for Arby’s, let’s just leave it at that. And mostly in the construction industry, all sorts of different roles within construction. Most of the time, though, I have worked in very small teams are on my own. So it was really important for me to keep in contact with the marketing industry. Because being on my own, I just needed to know am I doing things the right way? Am I keeping up with the current trends, etc, etc. Which is where I met you at on one of our committees,
Simone Douglas 1:12
Karyn Dale 1:13
Yes, that’s right. And yeah, that was probably about six years ago, I think. And yeah, and stayed in contact, obviously. And also your social media post about the podcast, although that sounds like a bit of fun. It’s give it a go.
Simone Douglas 1:28
Yeah, it’s a good excuse to catch up. So tell us a little bit about mites and construction. And for those people that might not understand
Karyn Dale 1:36
Yeah, sure. Mates in construction is a charity that aims to reduce suicide in the construction industry. There’s branches all around Australia, we like to say. Suicide in construction is higher than the average Australian. So it’s really important that we focus on our people, and that we’re tailored just for our industry, we understand them, we talk to them, etc. So here, we’re very small team is about six of us. Here in SA. We’ve just got a new person starting with us next week, which is very exciting. So yeah, our team reaches a lot of people. Yeah, yeah. So I do the marketing and business development. So promoting the business creating more awareness around the problem. Why we’re here how we can help getting more people to use our services during training, that kind of thing.
Simone Douglas 2:31
So I’m curious about this, because my brothers are both in construction. So in varying degrees, one of them is with FIFO, LIFO, FIFO. And actually got stuck in WA, when he was due to do his home rotation and things. So there are all sorts of things. I think, you know, additional pressures and additional considerations. Is that compounded by you know, that stigma around, you know, blokes in particular construction. I mean, I know there are women in construction as well, yeah, but you know, the big, strong, build things.
Karyn Dale 3:05
Yeah, a lot of what we talk about is starting a conversation, reaching out to people, because that is a major factor really promote with our programme is a help offering model, as opposed to help seeking model. So help seeking is when someone knows they’re not travelling well, and they’ll ring, although reach out to someone for help. We understand too, that people don’t always make the right decisions at that point. And so we create a community of people who know the signs and signals that someone else isn’t travelling well, and equip them to have a conversation. So if I noticed that you were a bit quieter than normal, or, or even a bit louder than normal, but just not normal. I can walk up to you and start a conversation and see how you’re travelling. Yeah. And it’s a very effective way because it’s all about early intervention. Yeah. So that’s what we’re doing within our industry. And yeah, the the guys really, and I say the guys, but it’s guys and girls, the girls in the construction industry, are often the go to.
Simone Douglas 4:10
So I think it really is true to like when you have gender diversity in the workplace, sometimes that stereotype of the mother hen is quite common, I think, particularly in construction.
Karyn Dale 4:20
Yeah, I think so. And I don’t want to be too stereotypical. But yes, I speak to a lot of women who do our training programme, who say, I’m here because I have a responsibility to learn how to manage these conversations. Because more times than not someone on site will corner me or, you know, It happened to meet me in the corner of the lunch room and want to talk to me about what’s going on in the world. So they come to us and do our training. So that actually know what to say and what to do in that time.
Simone Douglas 4:54
So if there’s someone listening to this that maybe has a team of people in construction And they want to create that kind of supportive workplace environment where people are trained in early intervention in terms of conversations. And do you guys do mental health first aid and things like that as well? Or is it your own? Kind of?
Karyn Dale 5:14
Yeah, we have three levels of training that we do. The first one is general awareness training, and we actually aim to train 100% of the workforce in this, it’s about 40 minutes. Yeah. And it’s the type of thing people don’t don’t know until they’re told, like, Oh, that’s so obvious. And that’s great. From that point, we asked for volunteers to do the next level, yeah, we usually get a really good amount of people putting their hands up, because they said, that is something I need to know. The next level is about three half, three and a half hours long. And it gives a more of an understanding of what to look for and how to manage it. So that’s called Connect level when someone becomes a connector. They’re the person on site where someone can go, I don’t think John is looking too good. Yeah, that can go to the connector, and the connector can then go and have a chat with John. The next level is Assist, which is applied suicide intervention skills training. Oh, wow. And that’s an international model that we use. And that’s two days in an interactive workshop. Yeah, it’s full on is the most amazing training session, I’m done, your head spins, but you walk out, you’ve got a formula and a plan of how to keep someone safe if they’re if they’re on the edge. So it’s really, really clever. So I would recommend any organisation who has a team of people, and they want to create a community that’s self sufficient and looking out for each other. Do all three levels.
Simone Douglas 6:44
Karyn Dale 6:44
Not everyone has to do all three. But there’s a certain percentage, usually every site, we recommend one deceased worker. So it’s Yeah. But the other side of what we do is offer support.
Simone Douglas 6:56
Karyn Dale 6:57
And all of this support is absolutely free. So we’ve got case management service. Anyone in the construction industry and their family, their immediate family can find our helpline called, they can enter our system, we can put them in touch with counsellors, depending on what your problem is. It’s all individually tailored assistance. Yeah. So if it’s drug and alcohol problems, is it financial? Is it whatever it could be a whole range of things, our case manager who’s local, she will connect you up with whatever you need, and then they will work through it with
Simone Douglas 7:32
Karyn Dale 7:33
Yeah. So whether you’ve done our training or not needs to pick up the phone. Absolutely. Our services are there for everyone. So yeah, it’s a it’s a pretty awesome service. I gotta say,
Simone Douglas 7:41
yeah. So that sounds like pretty awesome. So So what is it that keeps you in the job? Because you’ve been there for a while now?
Karyn Dale 7:48
I’ve been there three years.
Simone Douglas 7:49
Karyn Dale 7:50
Which is a record for me. I haven’t been anywhere for three years for a while. We’ll start to start with it’s a great team that I work with, you know, I like that. That’s what keeps you in the job, isn’t it? I love the team I work with they’re very passionate, very grounded. Yeah, really good people. The job itself is great. So what we’re doing really matters.
Simone Douglas 8:16
Yeah. So it’s got a higher purpose
Karyn Dale 8:19
it does. And I’ve worked in the industry for a long time for businesses who are generating revenue. And that’s fine, because that’s business. But this has been the first real role I’ve had that is a not for profit, it’s about making a difference. Supporting people. Even really, it’s great.
Simone Douglas 8:41
Yeah. Do you think that there’s actually there’s that I feel like there’s a changing landscape. And I think it was changing before COVID. But I think COVID has like brought it to the forefront, that there are more and more businesses and organisations so just not dedicated, not for profits, but more and more businesses and organisations that, you know, are cognizant of and interested in the impact they have on their wider community and how they make it better.
Karyn Dale 9:08
Yeah, I really do. And one thing that showed me that was last year during COVID, part of my job is to bring in industry partners to help fund our programme because we’re not fully funded by longshot. So we have an industry partnership programme, which is a structured machine. I’ve been working on that for about a year and a half and you know, building relationships, that type of thing. During COVID We signed up about eight businesses. And that took us from three to 11 Did you know what I mean? Like it was because businesses suddenly when we’ve got to stop on all essential spending, but this is absolutely essential because of what’s going on in our world right now. \
Simone Douglas 9:54
Yeah, of course
Karyn Dale 9:55
so they spent money in this area to keep us going because then you will supporting their pay Both industry. So yeah, I do I agree with that.
Simone Douglas 10:03
I had a conversation, you know, with a guest the other day around to, I think COVID has changed the conversation around mental health. So all of a sudden, it’s perfectly normal to talk about struggling with your mental health. It’s okay to talk to, you know, other business owners about the fact that life’s difficult, you know, that you’re not coping, because all of these outside forces, but it also has then normalised the opportunity to talk to people about, well, actually, I’m always struggling or you know, some days I don’t want to get out of bed.
Karyn Dale 10:39
Yeah, exactly. Right. And it’s easier than for people to confide in someone. Yeah, to have that conversation. And often, you just need to have a conversation, not everyone who rings our, our helpline. They don’t need long term care. Sometimes they just need a quick conversation. So yeah, never underestimate the power of a quick conversation with someone about how they’re going.
Simone Douglas 11:03
Karyn Dale 11:04
Likewise, if you’re bottling something up, yeah, just talk to the person next to you. Because these days, they’ve probably just had that conversation with someone else’s work
Simone Douglas 11:13
Yeah. And I think too, it’s really important, particularly when your public persona is one of being like really strong. All of those things, to let that persona fall occasionally, like, I’m a big fan of when I have a blanket for days and the world could know. Today, I’m drinking whiskey and sitting on the couch, and the world can go to hell. And everyone’s like, hi, you’re human. Thank you. So you know, because it’s, there’s a danger that you set, you know, inadvertently set up this self fulfilling prophecy that, you know, people should be able to, and should such an awful word because it’s a guilty adduction.
Karyn Dale 11:52
Yeah. And that kind of persona, that you’re always on top of things. Yeah, it reinforces to others that they’re not as good as that. So being real and honest about the fact that unlike that a lot of the time, but then the other part of the time, I need to, like wrap myself in a blanket. And it shows other people that that’s totally normal. Yeah. And then people go on. Hi, I’m actually doing okay.
Simone Douglas 12:18
Yeah, okay. Well, and I think too, you know, I have a really high stress tolerance. Absolutely. I don’t, I love a busy pace. In fact, I would get bored otherwise. But you need to, you know, when I keep that pace, I also then hit the brick wall and have to have the backup for it. So what advice would you give to someone that’s might be listening, that is thinking that they’re sucking everything? Because I think that’s a common? It’s a really common statement, particularly from women. In business, it’s just like, I’m not doing anything. Well,
Karyn Dale 12:54
yeah. Well, it’s funny when I was standing outside the room about to come in, and we’re having a conversation and I said, it’s Tom’s like this, I think, I don’t know anything. I haven’t got anything to offer. I’m just winging it. I’m an imposter. And it is such a normal feeling
Simone Douglas 13:11
Karyn Dale 13:12
And this is, again, why I keep in touch with the marketing community. Because it reminds me that no, sometimes the PowerPoint doesn’t work. And sometimes you forget your cord, and you’ve got no, you’ve got no power. All of those things are incredibly normal. So I think it’s best just to stay really grounded.
Simone Douglas 13:35
Karyn Dale 13:37
Have a good laugh at yourself. And, you know, find finding people have a chat, you know, and you’ll find out that you know, the person you’re talking to, accidentally went to a meeting in this slippers that day or the night and I have done that before. But it makes you feel like no, no, we’re all. We’re all struggling. Yeah, we are all human and Being human means we struggle. Yeah, the struggle is very real. And it doesn’t matter what your struggle is. He could be really big to someone else, or really small to someone else, but it’s very real.
Simone Douglas 14:10
I think that’s a really good spot to end on. Karen, thanks so much for joining me today.
Karyn Dale 14:15
Thanks for having me.
Chris Irving 14:16
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai