Stress, depression and anxiety accounts for over a fifth of work-related illnesses in Construction, and with two construction workers dying by suicide every day there’s never been a better time to look at ways of improving mental health in the construction industry.
This male dominated workforce has long been known to contain workers who are reluctant to talk about their mental health. Although better than it was, the continued stigma of mental illness prevents them from discussing it beyond close friends or family members.
Among the contributing factors for manual workers in construction are intense workloads, tight deadlines, money worries and working in isolation, as well as physical factors such as noise levels, inadequate temperature control and uncertainty of working location.
It is imperative going forward for employers to ensure their firm’s health and safety culture includes a greater focus on emotional as well as physical wellbeing.
So what can be done?
Since 2018 CITB has supported nearly 950 employers – and awarded £1,550,396 of funding to mental health projects. Over £1.3m in grants have been paid to support mental health first aid and awareness courses and mental health champions.
There are a number of groups already established aimed at supporting workers in the industry.
Building Mental Health are a group of volunteers from the construction industry who have come together to provide a flexible and consistent framework to enable all parts of the construction sector to access mental health support, provide awareness and training and put in place a structure and systems to support people working in and around our industry. They say, "every working day, two construction workers take their own life. We have to educate everyone in our industry to recognise the signs and symptoms of our colleagues that are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression and start the conversation to assist in their recovery.
The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity have a range of support for both construction workers and their families, including a Self Support App, a confidential phoneline and text number as well as a well-being academy and learning resources.
Charity Mates in Mind works to address the stigma of poor mental health across industries, focusing on construction, as well as related sectors including transport, logistics, manufacturing, and others.
The charity has great resources to make sure employers are well informed around mental health and to make sure workers are getting the support they need.
The UK construction industry has a long way to go to combat the silent epidemic of mental health in the workplace. There is no doubt a huge cultural shift needs to take place to change the way construction professionals behave, respond and talk about mental health. A key way to tackle this is through education; raising awareness, training and support across the supply chain from principal contractors through to the hundreds and thousands small businesses and self-employed individuals.
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