Greenkeepers’ association launches campaign to train network of mental health first aiders

The British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) has launched a campaign to combat mental health struggles among golf club staff.

BIGGA has pledged to create 100 mental health first aiders during 2023, who will receive training to support greenkeepers and other clubhouse staff through any difficulties they may be experiencing.

Poor mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing society today, with 75% of deaths of men aged 50 and under due to suicide, making it the biggest cause of death in that age bracket. The greenkeeping industry itself has been rocked by several tragic losses in recent years and in 2021 BIGGA undertook a survey that revealed 80% of greenkeepers had worried about the mental health of a colleague.

Working environments and money concerns are major causes of stress and mental health problems and BIGGA is working alongside golf’s governing bodies to improve governance and working practices at golf clubs. Stronger, more positive and respectful working environments should help relieve some of the undue pressures placed upon staff at present.

To further support those working in the golf industry, BIGGA has launched its campaign to train 100 mental health first aiders across the country. The training course provides the first aiders with knowledge to help them recognise signs or signals that colleagues or friends may be experiencing difficulties and empowers them to direct others towards available help.

The cost of the course is being met by BIGGA with support from The R&A and participants will receive a certificate from Mental Health England. In addition, participants will receive three years’ ongoing training and support from Mental Health England.

The opportunity to get involved is open to BIGGA members, including greenkeepers and trade representatives.

The first course will be held in February at Edgbaston Golf Club and further events will be hosted around the country, helping to build a national network of mental health first aiders.

The campaign is being led by BIGGA’s Steve Dudley-Brown, himself a former greenkeeper and course manager with 25 years’ experience in the industry.

Steve said: “During my career as a greenkeeper, I experienced several of my colleagues having mental health difficulties. It’s a scary situation knowing that you have someone in front of you and they are upset and afraid. You want to try and support them the best you can. This training course will give people the ability to understand a little more about what the person is going through and point them in the right direction for help.”

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