May is the given month for mental health awareness and it is vital we reflect on our industry and the importance of not only our physical health but mental health. Sadly no one is immune to the impacts of poor mental health, and it can create huge issues in many aspects of a person’s life, from their career to their personal relationships and much more.
As an industry, construction continues to suffer more than any other with poor mental health. In the UK men 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 for men. Another heartbreaking statistic is that 1-2 lives are taken every working day in the UK and now suicide kills more construction workers than falls in the workplace every year. In 2020 a study reported that 83% of construction workers have experienced a mental health issue.
Sadly your job site is not the exception.
All of these shocking statistics are real and tragic and highlight the urgent action that must be taken to prevent the spread of this epidemic!
Why are construction workers at risk?
One of the biggest factors in our industry is that it is dominated by men and these men are three times more likely to die by suicide than the national average for men. Construction work has a variety of pressures from tight contracts to long hours, time away from family and managing budgets among many other stressors. And within the construction industry, there is this “macho” culture which stops workers from seeking the help and support they may need; this only puts more strain on their mental wellbeing. Sadly the industry has a number of possible triggers. It is so very important for employers and individuals to know how crucial mental health awareness is so that they can ensure that support is available if required.
What can we do?
This work is just beginning. We need to educate the industry to recognise the signs and symptoms and start a conversation to help with their recovery. The most powerful tool we have in this is to understand each other in order to help change the culture surrounding the industry. Every educated employee is a move in the right direction and a step closer to conquering the stigma that prevents workers from facing and overcoming their inner demons. Empower your fellow colleagues to seek out the support they need, this list can help.
Increasing awareness is key, help can be given if it is required. The issue is managers and colleagues can not help if they do not know someone is suffering, bottling up your emotions will only do more harm, please speak out. We must incorporate this new approach to mental health into our work life and implement employee orientations were speaking openly about mental health is normalised as this will help bit by bit to change this “macho” culture.
Look for the signs and you will see them. The following are signs of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts and can be noticed within the construction sector:
- Decreased productivity
- Increased conflict among co-workers
- Near hits, incidents, and injuries
- Decreased problem-solving ability
- Increased tardiness and absenteeism
Mental health awareness and suicide prevention are just as important as job safety and now is the imperative we focus on creating a safe culture. So, train your entire staff, raise awareness of the problem, ensure resources are available to all employees and normalise conversations about mental health. Together we can end this stigma around mental health.
Please always remember it is ok to not be ok!
- The Lighthouse Club Helpline
- UK: 0345 605 1956
- ROI: 1800 936 122
- We are Mates in Mind
- 020 3510 5018