Laser Group is a leading network of electrical and plumbing contractors in New Zealand and Australia, with 98 members nationally.
“The Mental Health Foundation is a really worthwhile charity. We know the money is going to a good cause and is well used and appreciated,” Scott says.
Reaching out is easier than you think
Scott believes what Laser Group is doing for the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) in New Zealand is something other businesses can do too.
Laser Group’s relationship with the MHF was inspired following their Australian counterpart’s decision to support a non-profit mental health organisation called beyondblue. The Aussie company had a sobering reason for reaching out to beyondblue: they did so after the suicide of a Laser Group employee in Australia.
“That got us thinking about things here in New Zealand and what we could do. We’d been looking for a charity to support, one that lined up with our philosophy, and the Mental Health Foundation was a good fit for us,” Scott says.
Incredible fundraising support from staff
“Last year, we started talking to members about supporting the Mental Health Foundation and what kind of charity events we could do. We asked members to discuss ideas and the results have been amazing.”
Fundraising events have included a movie night in Christchurch, a 24-hour relay around Mt Maunganui, an obstacle course challenge in Nelson, golf day in Napier, high roller evening in Auckland and Auckland’s Round the Bays run.
“Everyone involved has put in a lot of time and effort and need to be commended for their achievements. It’s good to give back,” Scott says.
Efforts reap many rewards
“We’ve had a fair few dealings with contractors who had been affected by depression and anxiety so we know how badly it can affect people.
“Just talking to people affected really helps them to feel like they’re not alone and vulnerable. Business owners are at risk of depression and anxiety, too, due to the stressful nature of their work,” Scott says. There’s a fair amount of pressure on them in their working life. It’s a big responsibility and there’s a lot of strain and pressure financially and they’re responsible for so many staff members.”
So being connected and understanding these struggles and giving back like this can be very beneficial and rewarding.
Scott adds that it is important to provide a workplace where people feel comfortable opening up about mental health challenges they may be facing, and it’s important to look after your own mental health and wellbeing.
“Plus, being active helps and it’s a great opportunity to build teams into close-knit groups,” Scott says.
Asking for help is okay
Scott’s final message is not so much to businesses, but to the average Kiwi bloke: “it’s not a weakness to say you need help.”
Laser Group is a male-dominated workplace and he says it can sometimes be hard for men in particular to talk about their feelings.
“Young men especially don’t open up that much, but it’s always good when somebody does. Hopefully that inspires others to be open and honest about their own feelings and what they’re going through.”
Working closely with the MHF has certainly helped this message get through to our members.