Construction is known as a high risk profession with respect to health and safety and this apparently includes mental health. Last week saw the UK Government website post analysis from the Office of National Statistics revealing which professions have the highest risk of suicide and this included the following quote:
Stress in construction if often considered the norm with long working hours and constant pressure of delivering projects on time, to budget, without compromising on quality, health, safety and the environment; projects which have often beeen won in a competitive tendering process with low or no margin. At the sametime, the recession has resulted in leaner staffing, with personnel often doing more than one role, and completing what are seen as non- billable but essential tasks in their own time. Furthermore, workers are often only employed on a short-term basis and are often laid off at short notice as the construction industry responds to changes in the economy both locally, nationally and globally. Coping with this level of pressure may be possible when we are all operating at peak health and our home lives are calm amd supportive, but as we all know, life is a series of challenges, and at any time events can conspire to make these pressures seem overwhelming. This is where as an industry we often fall down, as being still male dominated any evidence of an inability to cope, be affected by mental health issues is seen often as a weakness to be hidden, not talked about or heaven forbid managed.
It is beginning to change and with mental health moving up society’s agenda, likewise we see evidence of the industry raising awareness of this important issue with the Construction News’ Mindmatters Campaign and the launch of “Mates in Mind” a charitable programme to improve and promote positive mental health in construction. You can help increase awareness by sharing this article and raising the issue of mental health within your organisation. Mates in Mind have training resources available to assist and the HSE has an area of their website dedicated to mental health matters at http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/mymental.htm; and of course the Samaritans are there 24/7, 365days a week to support individuals as well as offering training for organisations to improve staff resillience and communication for well being. Not only does looking after the mental health of our workforce make common sense as compassionate human beings but makes sound business sense with the HSE reporting over 11.7million workdays lost in 2015/2016 due to stress,depression or anxiety. Can you afford to ignore this issue any longer? It is time to talk about mental health.