Why Mental Health Matters in Construction
The construction industry is one of the most vital and dynamic sectors in the UK, employing over 2.4 million people and contributing to 6% of the GDP.
However, it is also one of the most challenging and stressful industries, with high levels of physical and mental demands, long and irregular working hours, tight deadlines, financial pressures, and exposure to hazardous environments.
These factors can take a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of construction workers, who are often reluctant to seek help or talk about their feelings due to the stigma and macho culture that prevails in the industry. As a result, many workers suffer in silence, experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, or even suicidal thoughts.
The statistics are alarming: according to Mates in Mind, a charity that supports mental health in construction, men in the UK are three times more likely to die by suicide than women, but in construction – a male dominated industry – men are four times more likely to die by suicide than the national average for men. Moreover, a report by the Chartered Institute of Building found that 26% of construction industry professionals thought about taking their own lives in 2019 and 56% of construction professionals work for organisations with no policies on mental health in the workplace.
These figures show that there is an urgent need for action to improve the mental health and wellbeing of construction workers and create a culture of care and support within the industry. This is not only a moral duty, but also a business case, as poor mental health can lead to lower productivity, higher absenteeism, increased turnover, higher accident rates, and higher costs.
Fortunately, there are some initiatives and programmes that aim to raise awareness and help construction workers who are struggling with their mental health.
For example, CITB has funded several projects that offer mental health first aid and awareness courses, mental health champions, and online resources for workers and employers.
Mates in Mind also offers training, guidance, and support to help organisations improve their mental health culture and practices.
However, there is still much more to be done to make mental health a priority in construction!
By working together, we can make a difference and improve the mental health and wellbeing of construction workers. After all, they are the backbone of our economy and society, and they deserve our respect and care.
Remember: it’s OK not to be OK. You are not alone. There is help available. And you matter!
If you are currently struggling with your mental health and need some help & support then please contact one of the organisations below.
• Mind – is a mental health charity which promotes the views and needs of people with mental health issues. It provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. Call 0300 123 3393 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Lighthouse – The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity provides financial and emotional support to the construction community and their families. This could be due to an injury, a long-term illness or simply needing a hand. They support education and training initiatives, fund ideas to improve health or safety in the work environment, and provide services like the 24-hour Construction Industry Helpline. Call 0345 605 1956 or text HARDHAT to 85268
• Samaritans – is an organisation offering confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Phone 116 123 (a free 24 hour helpline) or email email@example.com
• Shout – is a 24/7 text service, free on all major mobile networks, for anyone struggling to cope and in need of immediate help. Text SHOUT to 85258.
• SOS Silence of Suicide provides a listening service for people who need emotional support, understanding, compassion & kindness. Phone 0300 102 0505