MATES on Site - Mates in Construction NZ | Mental health in Construction
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MATES in Construction believes in building workplace communities and increasing the capability of the workforce to look out for their MATES.  MATES encourage the questioning of the stigma that currently surrounds the topic of suicide and mental illness.  The programme is FREE to everyone on site, giving access to the whole workforce.

MICNZ Korero at table

The MATES Programme


Key features of the MATES programme that sets us apart from other suicide prevention initiatives:

  • It is based on the work leading Livingworks Suicide Prevention Model.
  • It seeks to build workplace capacity to identify and appropriately respond to signs that a co-worker may be at risk of suicide.
  • Actively engaging with workers through on-site training and providing case management support to those who seek help and linking them to suitable professional support.
  • MATES staff have been trained in suicide intervention and come from backgrounds within the Building and Construction Industry.  This provides them with the ability to connect easily with the workers on site and have a good understanding of the pressures faced working in the industry.
MATES in Construction NZ | Mental health in construction

The MATES programme uses training as a tool to raise awareness that there is a problem with suicide and its contributing risk factors within our industry – and that we can all be part of the solution.  Support is then provided through clear pathways to help. 

Our case management processes ensure that workers in need of support are connected to appropriate help; and on-site visits by field officers to support the site and its workers in an ongoing presence until the site closes.

Three Levels of Programme Delivery

MATES in Construction NZ | MATES on site | Mental health in construction
MATES Inducted | MATES in Construction NZ

General Awareness Training (GAT)

GAT Training is delivered to at least 80% of workers on site, it is delivered en-masse and on-site at a time and place convenient to the contractors. This training helps to introduce workers to the nature of the problem and provides practical guidance as to how they can assist.

MATES Connector | MATES in Construction NZ


Connector Training is provided to those people on site who volunteer to become a Connector. 

A Connector is trained to help keep someone in crisis safe, while at the same time connecting them to professional help.

Although the optimum number of connectors is 1 in 20 (5%), it is about ensuring there is adequate coverage across the site and across crews.

MATES Asist | MATES in Construction NZ


ASIST Training equips individuals to develop safe plans for workers at critical risk. These workers can be compared to the first aid officer on site. ASIST workers will talk to a person contemplating suicide with the object of making this person “safe”. Using simple skills an ASIST worker will listen to the persons’ concerns and respond to them appropriately with the object of reaching a “safe plan” for the worker.

Support from our Team


field officers

MATES Field Officers go onto site to establish the programme. Once the MATES programme commences, the Field Officer will have contact with that site until the site comes to closure. That presence includes both training and support. It could include toolbox talks, presence at site events, regular visits to the site office and to be available to talk with any workers who may want to talk with MATES.

MATES in Construction field staff provide ongoing support for Connectors and ASIST workers on sites.

Where there is a critical incident, the Field Officer will contact the Connectors in view of providing support.  The Field Officer will attend site by invitation.

See our current team at MATES in Construction HERE.

Support from our team | MATES in Construction NZ | Mental health in construction
Case management | MATES in Construction NZ | Mental health in construction

case management

MATES Case Managers assist troubled workers with an effective plan to effectively address their issue(s). Although MATES does not provide any services, we connect the worker to appropriate services. This could include services such as their EAP, financial counselling, drug and alcohol services, grief counselling, family and relationship counselling etc.

We also follow up with the worker to ensure the help they received was effective. In some cases, we will also advocate for the worker with a particular service to ensure the service can meet their needs.

MATES in Construction Wellbeing Buckets

The MATES in Construction Wellbeing Buckets have been adapted from Te Whare Tapa Whā model which was developed by Mason Durie.

When working within the construction industry it became apparent that the symbol of the buckets was a user-friendly route of getting the workers to identify where their level of support is required.

With four equal buckets, the symbol of each bucket portrays the four different dimensions of Māori Health and Wellbeing. Should one of the four dimensions be missing or damaged, a person or a collective may become ‘unbalanced’ and subsequently unwell.

In a traditional Māori approach, the inclusion of the wairua (spiritual), the role of the whānau (family) and the balance of hinengaro (mind) are as important as the tinana (physical) symptoms of illness and therefore requires a holistic approach.


Physical Wellbeing

Taha Tinana is your physical wellbeing. It is about how your body develops, feels and moves and how you nourish and care for it.

Tinana is just one aspect of health and wellbeing and cannot be seperated from all others.

For Maori the physical dimension is one aspect of overall health and wellbeing.


Spiritual Health

Taha wairua is about your connection with the environment, people and heritage in the past, present and future. The way people view wairua can be very different.

For some wairua is the capacity for faith or religious beliefs or having a belief in a higher power.

How is one’s wairua health impacting on other areas such as physical health.

Wairua can determine us as individual and as a collective.


Family Health

Taha whānau is about who make you feel you belong, who you care about and who you share your life with.

Whānau is about extended relationships – not just immediate relatives. It’s your friends, community and people you care about.

Whānau provides strength to be who we are.

Knowing the importance of whānau and how they contribute to your wellbeing and identity.


Mental Health

Just like your physical health, your taha hinengaro / mental and emotional wellbeing needs to be looked after.

Hinengaro represents your thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Hinengaro is about how you feel as well as how you communicate and think.

How do we see ourselves, our interaction with our identity and the perception.

We know that if one of the buckets is low, your capacity to maintain balance becomes very challenging. We want you to tell us where you are sitting in each area of your life through the buckets above. This way we can see where we can support you from a holistic approach, ensuring that the right fit of services and support is recognised and supported.

MATES in Construction would like to acknowledge Mason Durie for the Whare Tapa Whā model.

How the programme works

Increased awareness and understanding

Through on-site General Awareness Training we achieve an increased awareness and understanding of suicide and mental health in construction leading to reduced stigma. And through site activities such as toolbox talks, presence on site and Fly the Flag day a unity of purpose around improving mental health in construction and preventing suicide improves workforce perception of their industry and workplace.

Increased support capability

Through volunteer Connectors and ASIST workers we create a site-based peer intervention capability seeking to identify and connect workers to appropriate support.

Increased social connectivity

Through common purpose, onsite volunteers and general awareness we increase social connection on site and by supporting the on- site networks with Field Officers, Case Managers and a 24/7 Support line we connect individuals in need of support to the best available services.

useful resources


How to get the MATES programme onto your site.

"What is a Connector" brochure

Connectors make our industry safer – they are our eyes and ears on site.  

MATES awareness posters

MATES awareness posters for use on your site.

Become a MATES in Construction NZ Partner