Mental health awareness is vital in improving the understanding of mental health and increasing access to healthcare for those who need it. Unfortunately, even in 2022, there is still a significant amount of stigma and misconceptions associated with mental illness.
Men in the UK are three times more likely to die by suicide, and in construction – a male-dominated sector – men are three times more likely to die by suicide than the national average. Suicide now kills more construction workers than accidental falls every year, with 1-2 lives lost every working day. These shocking statistics highlight the urgent action needed to address mental health issues within construction.
Construction work typically includes limited-term contracts, long hours, long commutes, time away from family, and the pressure of project completion times and budgets. Many organisations are leading the way and implementing mental health strategies to support their employees and ensure mental health is being managed effectively on construction sites. This is a significant step in the right direction, but everyone can do more to break down stigma and help people reach out when they need support.
Challenges construction workers face
According to a survey of 500 construction workers conducted earlier this year, workers struggling with mental health reported financial concerns as the most significant contributor. The report also revealed that 86% of those surveyed said they would find it difficult to talk about their mental health, and more than a quarter of workers feel that they can’t take time off for mental health reasons.
Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, Emma Mamo, explained that in male-dominated industries, such as construction, employees are far less likely to open up about their mental health and ask for support. Unfortunately, the consequences of this can be fatal because untreated mental health conditions can become much worse if they’re avoided.
How can we support mental health in the construction industry?
What can leaders do?
Whether you’re a Project Manager or a Managing Director, the mental health of your workforce is crucial as it can have an enormous impact on the entire team. People struggling with mental health are prone to making mistakes, which can have devastating consequences in an industry as dangerous as construction.
You can do many things to support your workforce with their mental health, but would you recognise the signs of someone struggling? For example, repeatedly being late, absent, or lacking motivation could indicate that a worker is struggling with mental health issues.
You may not be able to appoint someone responsible for your workforce’s wellbeing. If that’s the case, you can find out exactly where workers can go to access support and advice and distribute this information and ensure it’s easily accessible to workers. Posters, newsletters, and emails all help to spread essential mental health support information.
The construction industry heavily depends on short-term projects, so clear communication with your workforce is imperative. Ensuring your team are well informed will manage their expectations and prevent them from becoming stressed further down the line.
How can you help yourself?
Consider the geographical location of a role before you take it. A closer work location will reduce the time you have to travel for a long day of physically demanding work, reduce unnecessary stress and allow you more time with your family.
If the short-term nature of construction projects is something that causes you anxiety or worries about finances, you can register with a labour-only provider like MEP Resourcing. Working with a broad portfolio of contractors allows us to offer our candidates work continuity in their local area.
Just like your tools and equipment require maintenance to operate smoothly, so does your body. Looking after your body not only prevents you from facing physical challenges in the future but can also improve your mental health. Making healthy food choices, keeping hydrated and getting regular exercise are all beneficial for your body, but don’t forget to ensure you get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for regulating our mood, rebooting our immune system, and allowing us to be alert and focused – which is vital in construction!
If you’re struggling with your mental health or want to support someone who is, mental health charity, Mind, has an abundance of resources and services to help you.