Mental health problems can affect 1 in 4 people but we often don’t get the help we need. Construction is not usually considered a the kind of industry where workers can discuss their problems. Construction sites themselves are still relatively male dominated workplaces.
Talking about problems is difficult when it feels like you are admitting a weakness. The Health and Safety Strategy Lead at CITB said “A generation ago, stress didn’t really register as a major problem in construction. That not because stress wasn’t an issue – far from it. It was more that people weren’t prepared to talk about it.
“Instead, workers would take time off for back pain or some such, and the true reason stayed masked. Nowadays, stress and depression has increased, while back pain has gone down – perhaps showing that some are getting more comfortable about reporting what they’re really going through.”
The simple fact is that everyone within the industry could do better at helping each other when we are feeling stressed.
Statistics show that each day, two construction workers take their own lives. Stress, depression or anxiety accounts for a fifth of all work related illness. The industry loses around 400,000 working days each year due to this.
Older workers show higher levels of stress than their peers which is linked to the greater demands being placed on them. Many construction workers are self-employed or part time and say that the lack of job security can contribute to mental health problems.
A physical injury at work can have serious mental health consequences. 2,000 accidents in the construction industry each year leave workers unable to return to work.
Mental health first aid
Mental health first aid gives trainees the ability to recognise mental health problems and give support to colleagues.
Mental health first aiders are not equipped to deal with the root causes of mental health problems in the construction industry.
“Systemic problems in the construction industry, such as long supply chains, the withholding of payments, slim profit margins and job insecurity all go towards increasing stress and anxiety. These are hard to tackle, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”
“Systemic problems are hard to tackle, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try”