Research into the mental health of our construction workers shows growing levels of depression and mental illness.
There have been huge improvements in on-site safety in recent years and the physical challenges facing workers in the sector are now more commonly addressed but, it seems, care for mental health is lagging woefully behind.
Why is mental health not taken seriously?
It’s thought that the ‘macho’ culture common in the sector makes it hard for people to talk about how they are feeling.
Construction work is challenging on mental health. It’s often transient, with workers working away from their family and friends.
For some, there are also money worries as contract work can bring with it lean periods of reduced income.
Feelings of stress, anxiety and isolation are common and can, if they’re not recognised and dealt with in the early stages, lead to more serious and challenging cases of depression and even suicide.
The suicide rate, amongst workers in the sector is three times the national average. That’s a staggering figure.
How can you help yourself and your staff?
A new charity called Mates in Mind is working to improve mental health in the construction trade.
With links to bodies such as Mind and the Samaritans, as well as The British Safety Council, it hopes to reverse the fears many workers feel about talking about their mental health.
They’re trying to bring about a change in attitude where talking about feelings is seen as a strength rather than a weakness.
The charity has set itself ambitious targets, aiming to reach 10,000 workers within its first year and 75% of the industry by 2025.
So far, Mates in Mind has found that a ‘bottom-up’ approach to spreading its message has worked best, as it is easier to convince younger members of the workforce of the benefits of sharing and caring.
The charity is offering businesses workshops to breakdown prejudices and suggests that companies appoint a trained mental health first-aider, to help follow through and ensure that issues arising from initial discussions are effectively dealt with.
There has been significant interest in the scheme so far and aside from the fact that a healthier workforce is a more productive one, it’s time for construction workers to take mental health more seriously and establish a more supportive culture.
Make sure you look after the mental health of you and your staff in 2019 – the brain should be looked after as much as the rest of the body. For more information on Mates in Mind, please click here