Tragic death of young decorator inspires Bolton firm to tackle mental health issues

Jordan as a young boy with his mum

A construction and property services companies has been inspired by the tragic death of a young colleague to build awareness of mental wellbeing as the latest figures show that young male construction workers are more likely to commit suicide than any other profession.

Bolton-based Seddon is starting a serious conversation about mental health with its 700 employees as part of Mental Health Awareness Week and is launching a series of mental wellbeing initiatives in memory of Jordan Bibby.

Jordan, from Radcliffe, was just 25 when he took his own life in September 2017. A painter and decorator and a member of the Seddon property services team, his death came as a shock to family, friends and workmates.

Jordan’s mum, Melanie, said: “The last thing I said to Jordan was ‘I love you,’ on Monday evening. On Wednesday, I was told he had passed away.

“None of the words made sense; I knew what they meant, but they didn’t fit together in the sentence. I didn’t understand how they could be about my son, someone so loving and fearless and full of life.

“No one had any idea that Jordan was suffering. If he would have reached out to any of us we would have helped him get the support he needed.

“We would have got him through it, we always did, we always made sure he was OK, and for the most part he was. I think there was just one moment where he couldn’t see a way forward and he made a decision and it’s the one thing that we can’t fix.

“I would give anything to get him back, my own life for his, but I know that’s not possible.

“What I can do is share our story, talk about it and let other people know that, in their darkest moments, there is always someone willing to listen and help. We don’t close doors in our house, we don’t hide Jordan’s passing, we talk about him, we celebrate his life and we are strong for him, because if he saw us hurting he would never find peace.”

Now ‘Jordan’s Conversation’, an educational presentation on mental health and wellbeing, is being launched and delivered across Seddon’s live construction sites and four offices in the North West and Midlands in a bid to encourage dialogue and openness about mental health.

The talk will discuss how employees can recognise and seek help for their own mental health issues as well as how to spot if a colleague may require support. All 700 employees will be involved as well as the 400 subcontractor team members on the company’s sites.
The initiative has been set up in partnership with Mates in Mind, a registered charity that aims to raise awareness, address the stigma of poor mental health and improve positive mental wellbeing in the UK construction industry.

Melanie continues: “Jordan’s Conversation is such a vital initiative; I felt I had no option but to get involved, to help; it’s what Jordan would have wanted. We need to get men especially to open up about how they feel.

“We need to let them know that no one is bullet proof and that it’s OK to need help and we need to encourage them to reach out for support. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like Jordan must have felt, like they couldn’t carry on.

“If Jordan had reached out a thousand hands would have held him so tightly & only lessened the hold when he was strong enough to stand again. Make Jordan matter, make his life bring a difference.

“No one is alone, please speak out.”

Alongside this initiative, Seddon has set up a comprehensive employee assistance programme, run by employer insurer Aviva – Care First, to provide support services through crisis and access to counselling with a 24 hour confidential external hotline.

Research commissioned by Public Health England last year found that there were more suicides in construction than in any other profession in the five years to the end of 2015.

Nicola Hodkinson, director of business services at Seddon and fourth generation member of the Seddon family, said: “We are a business with family values at its core and our people are very important to us so news of Jordan’s death last year deeply affected all of the team here.

“Since that tragic event, we have thought long and hard about how we can create an environment where our people feel able to speak out if they are suffering and how to ensure everyone in the business looks out for each other’s mental wellbeing.

“Poor mental health is on everyone’s agenda but as a male dominated industry we are more susceptible than most. Jordan’s Conversation is a key first step in our mission to achieve our aim and the start of a much more open and supportive approach to mental health at all levels of the business.“

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