World Mental Health Day 2022
In an industry that is often stereotyped as being packed full of physically fit, ‘macho’ men, it is easy to see why we are not famed for being talkers.
Sadly, a quick Google of ‘mental health and construction’ will lead you to a barrage of statistics that makes it clear just how much of an issue mental health has become within the construction industry.
The industry has some of the worst rates of suicide in the UK and Ireland, with male construction workers 2.7 times more likely to commit suicide than the average person.
26% of construction industry professionals thought about taking their own lives in 2019.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, construction has the highest suicide rate of all industries, at 53.2 suicides per 100,000 workers.
97% of construction industry professionals reported being under stress at least once a year and highlighted several work factors that contributed to their poor mental health.
Stress, anxiety, and depression account for one-fifth of work-related illnesses, resulting in 70 million days off sick per year at an estimated annual cost of £70bn-£100bn according to the National Building Specification.
How can the construction industry improve mental health?
One of the first ways the construction industry can improve mental health is by acknowledging that mental health is an issue in our sector.
There are many Charities out there that you can talk to but charities like Mates in Mind and Lighthouse Club are charities that exist to support provides emotional, physical, and financial well-being support to construction workers and their families.
Individual organisations need to encourage conversations around mental health, and help workers understand that support is there for them, should they need it.
How can you spot signs of poor mental health within your workforce?
To see poor mental health within their workforce, leaders must create open communication channels with their workers.
Here at Centum we have a specific person appointed to take care of the well-being of workers , another approach would be distributing information to workers that signpost workers to agencies that can help them improve their own mental health. Posters, newsletters, and emails can all be used to help spread the word.
Tell-tale signs of mental health issues
As well as direct communication lines, there are some indicators that managers and leaders should look out for. Workers who are repeatedly late, absent, or lacking motivation could be struggling with their mental health. Physical separation from colleagues should also be noticed.
Think about surveying your current workforce about how they feel. At best, you will be able to get a general overview of the mental health of your workers. But if nothing else, it will give you a good idea of how many of your workforces feel comfortable sharing information with you.
What can we do to tackle poor mental health within the construction industry?
Prioritise construction workers.
By considering the needs of your workers as well as the needs of your business, you are more likely to create a culture that will retain workers. Thinking about placing workers in roles that are physically and geographically suited to their skills and location will reduce unnecessary stress.
Whether you communicate through email, text, or phone call, it is imperative that you communicate clearly with your workers. In an industry that is so dependent on short-term projects, you can help by managing expectations. When workers realise that you will give them all the information, they need upfront, they are less likely to become stressed later down the line – or when they realise that the job is only secure for a few weeks.
Understand where workers can find support.
Not all organisations are large enough to tackle mental health issues internally. If that is the case, you need to know exactly where workers can go to find the support and advice, they need to deal with mental health issues. Making this information easily accessible, without workers needing to ask for it, will make workers more likely to reach out for support as and when they need it.
If you are having mental health issues below are some useful links that will be able to help: