Construction can be a rewarding and varied industry to work in, but also one with high pressure and lots of stress. Long hours, demanding physical work, working away from home for long periods of time and feelings of unease in the industry following the collapse of some well-established firms may all contribute to poor mental health for workers.
More than 1,400 construction workers took their own lives between 2011 and 2015
The construction industry is certainly one facing significant mental health challenges, with the Office of National Statistics finding that 13.2% of recorded in-work suicides between 2011 and 2015 were within the skilled construction and building trade industries – the highest of any profession over that period. This statistic is even more shocking when considering that the construction industry only accounts for a little over 7% of the UK workforce in total.
High pressures and a predominantly male-based workforce lead to an above average tendency for construction workers to experience work-related stress and other mental health issues. In fact, of the 1,419 reported suicides between 2011 – 2015 within the construction industry, 1,409 were men and just 10 were women. Building and construction workers are 1.6 times more likely to take their own lives than the national average, and in an industry plagued by a ‘tough guy’ image, coming forward with mental health issues can be difficult for employees.
Don’t suffer in silence
These shocking suicide statistics are causing changes within the construction industry. Construction businesses are increasingly prioritizing their staff’s mental health and putting employee mental health and wellbeing at the heart of their operations.
From Mental Health First Aid Courses to free Tool Box Talk templates, there’s more help, information and training available than ever before from organisations such as Mental Health at Work and Building Mental Health. To make sense of the support options available to both individuals and their employers, Mates in Mind partners with leading charities and organisations such as Mind and Samaritans. The service was founded in 2016 as a result of Construction CEOs and leaders overwhelmingly voting to improve the wellbeing of its workforce and aspires to reach 75% of the construction industry by 2025.
Promoting wellbeing in the workplace is essential in creating an open environment in which workers can freely discuss mental health, acknowledge their need for support and to ultimately tackle the shocking statistics within the construction industry.
How to support mental health at work
As an employer, there is only so much that you can do to help employees who are suffering from mental health issues. Alcumus PSM are specialists in HR and H&S and recommend taking the following actions to promote wellbeing in the workplace:
1. Create a culture of openness surrounding mental health.
2. Initiate a conversation with employees showing signs of mental health.
3. Consider reasonable adjustments.
4. Carry out return to work meetings following sickness.
Read the full blog post by Alcumus PSM on Supporting Mental Health at Work.