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Mental Health in the Construction Industry

June 2018 - Issue 106

The construction industry has recently been in the spotlight following research showing that 64% of construction workers want better physical and mental wellbeing support from their employers. Further, data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that more than 1,400 construction workers took their own lives between 2011 and 2015, which is more than 10 times higher than those working in health and social care and is a reminder that mental health should be given the same level of importance as other hazards construction workers face daily.

The National Building Specification suggests that mental health issues cost the UK economy between £70 billion and £100 billion a year through people taking almost 70 million days of sick per year. Therefore, employers need to be thinking about both their workers’ wellbeing and the commercial impact of not supporting a worker through issues with their mental health. By providing training on mental health and the signs of spotting poor mental health, particularly to those responsible for supporting employees, can assist in not only changing the culture within the company surrounding mental health but can ensure that those that need help are noticed and made aware of the support available to them. Further, of particular significance in the construction industry, enhanced awareness of mental health and getting people to talk can help to reduce the stigma that is often associated with mental health.

Mates in Mind, a charity that aims to raise awareness, address the stigma of poor mental health and improve positive wellbeing in the UK, has a goal to reach 100,000 workers in its first year and by 2025 to have reached 75% of the construction industry. Firms such as Balfour Beatty and Willmott Dixon have already signed up and it is hoped that many more construction companies will follow. Additionally, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has also announced it will fund the delivery of 13 Mental Health First Aid instructor-training courses with the aim of training a minimum of 2,500 on-site staff by 2020.

It is hoped that with the increased awareness of the issues with mental health within the construction industry and the steps that are being taken to ensure there is adequate training and help becoming available, a positive impact will be had on those construction workers that are currently facing mental health issues.

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