Mental Health in Construction

In construction we talk a lot about creating a safe working environment. It is a constant conversation had on every site up and down the country large or small. What is still much less discussed is creating a work environment that is good for our mental health.

While mental health is being talked about more than ever, there still seems to be a stigma stopping people from speaking up to colleagues or employers and telling those around them that they are struggling. This is especially true at smaller companies where pressure may be higher, hours longer and less resources are available.

We need to remove this stigma and encourage everybody to get talking and to share anything that may be troubling them.

According to Construction News nearly 25% of industry workers that were surveyed admitted to considering taking their own life. The large majority of those said that they did not discuss their issues with their employers.

As employers it is so important that everything possible is being done to help the mental health of our workforce. Luckily, in 2020 there are more resources and more information out there than ever before:

Mental health charities

MINDone of the leading mental health charities have a fantastic website with information about mental health, what do if you are struggling and what we can be doing as employers and staff to help out colleagues.

It is a great place to find resources to help us implement new company strategies and a place that we can encourage our team to turn to protect one another.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM); is another fantastic charity and its website, like MIND’s is another brilliant source of information and resources for creating a healthier working environment.

Their website has tonnes of information and links to other websites that can help with specific issues.

Even just having some of their posters or merchandise around site, in the canteen etc will go along to show your workforce that you consider their mental well-being.

Lighthouse; is a construction focused mental house charity. They created and operate The Construction Industry, a dedicated construction industry safety net. The charity operates a 24 hour a day 7 day a week helpline for those working in the industry and their families and can offer much needed advice for things like:

  • Emergency financial aid to construction families in crisis
  • Advice on occupational health and mental wellbeing
  • Support on legal, tax and debt management matters

Of course, the above are only a few of many excellent organisations that exist to help us encourage those around us to speak out.

Building a mental health framework

It is vital that the relevant training and knowledge is shared throughout an organisation. We wouldn’t dream of sending people to site without sufficient health and safety knowledge yet there is still a lot to be done with regards to training our teams in mental health training. Various courses are available to teach people the signs to look out for if somebody is struggling and how they can behave to promote a safe place to talk.

Having the relevant resources available is important. Having information available on site and in the office can let those suffering in silence know that there is help out there and the company cares about them.

Toolbox talks

Building mental health subjects into your regular tool box talks is an easy way to get the topic openly discussed. There are some brilliant short films available which address the subject well and may get site talking about the dangers of bottling things up.

Dedicated first-aiders

More and more businesses are training dedicated first-aiders to act as a confidential resource for people to speak to. This demonstrates that your construction business is giving precedence to both physical and mental illness while removing the stigma. Your mental health first-aiders will be specifically trained to spot the signs of a construction worker contending with their mental health and understand the best way to intervene and provide support.

The Considerate Constructors scheme (CCS)

The CCS is a not for profit, independent organisation that focusses on raising the standards across the construction industry.

Contractors, construction related companies, suppliers etc can all voluntarily register with the scheme and by doing so agree to abide by the code of considerate practice. This code aims to encourage its members to practice above and beyond statutory requirements.

The Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) is a not-for-profit, independent organisation founded to raise standards in the construction industry.

The Scheme is concerned about any area of construction activity that may have a direct or indirect impact on the image of the industry as a whole. The main areas of concern fall into three categories: the general public, the workforce and the environment.

By joining the scheme you will be given lots of ideas and resources for things thing like looking after the workforce or enhancing the public image of your company. You will be assigned a advisor who can come to yours offices or building sites, review your set up and advise on where improvements can be made.

Just being educated and educating those around you will make a big difference to your companies culture on mental health. The aim is to break down any stigma of talking about our struggles and encouraging everybody that it can get better if we see help when we need it.

 27th January 2022

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