Saturday 10th October 2020 is World Mental Health Day.
Unfortunately, poor mental health is widespread in the construction industry. 0.6 million cases of work-related stress, depression and anxiety were reported by the HSE last year. Troubling data found between 2011-15 by the Office of National Statistics also revealed that, of the 13,232 in-work suicides recorded, those within the skilled construction and building trades made up 13.2%. When you think that construction accounts for just 6.6% of the UK workforce, this figure highlights just how much the industry is suffering.
Working in Construction can result in a challenging and stressful lifestyle; people must work long and demanding hours and as well spending long periods of time away from home and family. With a predominantly male workforce, the tendency to bottle up your emotions to preserve a “tough guy” image also occurs. These factors together result in many suffering in silence.
How do I know if someone is struggling?
The Construction Financial Management Association (CFML) have highlighted the following ways poor mental health may manifest itself in workers.
• Increased tardiness, absenteeism, and presenteeism (showing up to work physically, but not able to function)
• Family and Medical Leave requests due to long-term absences
• Decreased productivity
• Decreased self-confidence
• Isolation from peers
• Agitation and increased interpersonal conflict among co-workers
• Increased voluntary and involuntary attrition
• Increased feelings of being overwhelmed
• Decreased problem-solving ability
The CFML have highlighted that poor mental health may also lead to substance abuse, quality defects leading to waste and rework, as well as incidents and/or injuries that could affect safety and risk performance metrics.
How do I know if I’m struggling?
Being in tune with your own mental health is vital. Recognising that you’re struggling is the first step toward seeking help. The following symptoms, identified by UK mental health charity SANE, are signs that may indicate your mental health is suffering.
- Irregular sleep
- Decreased energy
- Changes in mood and behaviour
- Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood
Tackling poor mental health
World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness, share knowledge and show support to those affected by mental health issues, whether directly or indirectly.
To move forward, we must remove the stigma around mental health in the construction industry; being mentally happy and healthy is essential to general wellbeing.
Particularly in the current climate, maintaining regular interaction with your employees is vital, and asking relevant questions will highlight if any issues need to be addressed. Internal support groups also give people greater awareness of poor mental health and provide understanding and support.
Charities such as Mates in Mind and The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity work tirelessly to improve positive mental wellbeing in the UK construction industry. Such organisations are on hand to provide emotional support to those in the industry who suffer with poor mental health.
Your mind is just as important as your body when it comes to health. Don’t suffer in silence. If you need help, then please talk to someone.
House of Commons Library, Construction Industry: Statistics and Policy, 2019, p.3.