Be A Mate – Hei Hoa Te Ngāhere is a nationwide mental health and wellbeing programme for people working in the forestry industry. It is designed collaboratively with A-OK New Zealand, a recognised provider of mental health and suicide prevention programmes; and forestry stakeholders, managed and led by people in the industry, looking out for their mates.
A critical success factor of Be A Mate – Hei Hoa Te Ngāhere is that it brings all stakeholders from across the forestry supply chain together – corporate managers, forestry owners, forestry company employees, to contractors, their crews and employees.
Companies involved in the pilot (Hawke’s Bay,2022) saw how the programme provided a pathway to accessing their Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP’s), other community support organisations and providing tools internally to support your “Mate”, noting an increase in employees making use of the programme.
At a time when forestry in the Cyclone impeded regions of Tairawhiti and Hawkes Bay face a loss of their social licence to operate, the economic uncertainty that global conditions bring, the very real impact of climate change, the post COVID world, financial and business pressures, there are also personal and whanau stresses, it is time critical to implement this programme – it is not an overstatement to say that lives are at risk.
Forestry workers and personnel will have the tools, skills and confidence to identify, and respond to symptoms of mental health and wellbeing that impact on work, wellbeing, work mates, and whanau. The Programme ensures sustainability of the programme by training trainers in regions, and larger companies to continue to deliver the programme and provide support for those that need it.
It will create a national network of support for forestry worker mental health and wellbeing. The positive effects will include reduced absenteeism, increased work output and production, increased health and safety, and a happier workforce.