Mental health in the Construction Industry

How does mental health affect the Construction industry?

The Construction industry as a whole is based around the ethos of ‘strength’ and ‘toughness’. It is the perfect example of how differently society views physical and mental health.

Not only are Constructions strong with tough exteriors, but stereotypically we have learnt to also look at those working in the industry in the same way. 

In a male dominated industry with such an ethos, and almost such a reputation to uphold, it can not be easy for anyone to bring up an issue such as mental health. We also know statistically that men are far less likely to admit to mental health problems, and even less likely to seek professional help.

The suicide rate for construction workers in the UK is over three times the national average. 

So why Construction as an industry? Job insecurity plays a huge factor with over 50% of workers being self employed, and at the mercy of projects increasingly trying to be done cheaply. High pressure work environments are super stressful, often lonely too with sites being far from home. 

Couple these factors with a negative stigma surrounding talking about poor mental health and you have a deadly crisis. 

The industry is very strict, rightly so, on physical wellbeing, PPE on site such as high vis and steel toe caps is the norm, however with such staggering statistics surely we should be prioritising mental health as high as wearing a hard hat?

At a time where suicide is killing more people in the industry than falls from height, it is essential that mental health and safety is given the same time and investment as other site hazards. 

Education is empowerment. 

Many organisations have now been set up to tackle this problem, a quick search came up with the ‘Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity’ doing their bit to help and support those in the industry, including their families. Bill Hill the chief executive of this worthy organisation states that we lose more than one construction worker every day to suicide.

Measures need to be taken and the industry as a whole needs to change its culture. Construction knows it has a problem, and it is up to health and safety managers to challenge the stigma and create a secure and non judgemental environment for support, whilst also educating employers and employees of the tell-tale signs of struggle. Normalising and understanding mental health problems is the key to reducing the stigma, and hopefully in turn reducing the figures.

Remembering a cup of tea and a chat at lunch time can go a long way, it can save a life, no one is exempt from feeling low, even ‘happy-go-lucky’ Barry the donut man!

Support helplines:

Lighthouse Construction Industry helpline – 0345 605 1956

Mind helpline – 0300 123 3393 

Wick Hollow Contact  – 01458 258 700