Getting to grips with mental health

Date: 10 October 2018

For World Mental Health Day we highlight the presence of poor mental health in the construction industry and outline some measures that tradespeople can take to better support their colleagues.

Male construction workers are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average UK male. Now is the time to speak openly about mental health and be on hand to help others.

Nearly a quarter of construction workers are considering leaving the industry within the next year over concerns about their mental health. It shows that the sector has a significant issue with poor mental health.

In recent years there has been noticeable focus on the industry’s problem, but the sector is still struggling to properly identify the signs of poor mental health. In fact, a survey last year revealed that 73% of construction workers feel their employers don’t recognise the early signs of mental health problems.

Construction workers face a lifestyle that is both physically and mentally challenging and often requires long hours away from home. The ‘grin and bear it’ approach is widespread across the construction industry and can often lead to tradespeople bottling things up, making the problem worse.

A large number of people won’t talk about their mental health due to fear of being judged, humiliated or out of fear of losing their job. But even if someone doesn’t verbally raise their issues, there are key indicators to help recognise someone struggling with their mental health.

Early warning signs to look for often include:

  • Increased lateness
  • Making mistakes
  • Withdrawal from conversation or group activities
  • A sudden lack of confidence
  • Being on edge and snappy
  • A lack of energy
  • Looking unkempt and scruffy

If you recognise these signs in a colleague, be the person to provide a safety net and check in with them every once in a while. Offer to help where you can, invite them into your group, include them in activities outside of work and where possible, ask if they've considered or are aware of the support available through charity services. Being able to start the conversation can make a huge difference to someone struggling to cope.

Work around the issue has already begun; we were pleased to recently read that 67% of construction workers believe that awareness of mental health has improved over the past year. In order to provide better mental health support, tradespeople need to work together and remove the stigma that associates poor mental health with weakness.

We all have pressures in life and if you were struggling to cope, wouldn’t it be nice for someone just to check that we’re okay?

It's time to talk about mental health issues in the construction industry

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