Mental health in construction
About the issue
You may be aware of the current drive to support those who suffer from mental illness across the UK but the reality about how common it is, is shocking.
Every two hours, someone in England and Wales takes their own life. Mind, a mental health charity operating across England and Wales, have revealed this upsetting statistic as part of their Christmas appeal. And although construction workers account for only seven per cent of the UK workforce, an alarmingly high percentage of the in-work suicides recorded between 2011 and 2015 were workers within construction and building trades. According to data from the Office of National Statistics, male site workers in the construction industry are around three times more likely to commit suicide than the average UK male.
What support is available?
Almost every person in the UK will be affected by or know someone suffering from mental illness at some point in their lives. Increased awareness and reduced stigma around the subject of mental health is making it easier for those suffering to be diagnosed and gain the support that they need. But poor mental health can manifest itself differently from individual to individual. And often those struggling are not ready to seek the help they may need.
Luckily, organisations are rallying together to address this issue.
The Construction Industry Helpline
Holding down work to keep up with financial commitments and family responsibilities can be difficult. Talking about feelings and personal situations can be difficult and feel uncomfortable.
If you work in the construction industry and are trying to tackle stress, anxiety, depression, anger or suicidal thoughts alone, you don’t need to suffer in silence. You can get in touch with a helpline team, privately and if necessary anonymously. The ‘Construction Industry Helpline’ is a 24 hour helpline, established by Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity for construction workers.
Mental Health App for the Construction Industry
Three construction organisations have launched an app to compliment the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity’s established 24/7 Helpline. The app has been created to also address this sensitive subject and importantly, it’s accessible to all construction workers: not only is it free, it’s 100% confidential.
Using the app, construction workers and their families can find out more information, before taking any further steps towards seeking help. In this way, it’s a preventative tool. It provides support at the initial stages of a situation hopefully before the problem reaches a critical stage. Through the app, staff can find out about how they might help themselves or take the next step in seeking professional help if they need to.
Creation of the mobile app has been made possible by a collaboration between:
- Lighthouse Construction Charity – a charity that provides financial and emotional support to the construction community and their families.
- COINS – a construction software firm that develops, implements and supports enterprise resource planning software for the construction industry.
- Building Mental Health – a freely available, industry-wide framework and charter to tackle mental health in the construction industry.
Charities are already helping to remove the stigma around talking about mental health and wellbeing through a variety of mental health and wellbeing support programmes. But there’s still a long way to go before the culture in construction changes entirely. By providing a free app, which can be downloaded by anyone in the industry, these organisations hope to combat this.
A mental health network built for construction workers
Just as problems with mental health are prevalent within the industry, so to are the support networks and initiatives that are appearing in response to the problem. Last month Pro Builder launched a mental health section on their website. This section of the website is dedicated to news and initiatives looking at how tradespeople are dealing with mental health issues, including tips on coping with stressful situations such as late payments or tool theft and suggesting sources of additional information and support.
Mates in Mind are a registered charity also raising awareness and addressing the stigma surrounding mental health. In 2016, CEOs and leaders from across construction overwhelmingly voted to improve the mental wellbeing of its workforce. Mates in Mind is the product of that vote. Their activity focuses on training construction workers to be mental health aware and supportive. As well as raising awareness and informative support, they refer people to the construction industry helpline and support services.
By providing clear information to employers on available support and guidance on how they can address mental health, mental illness and metal wellbeing within their organisations, they work to improve positive mental wellbeing in the UK construction industry. They hope to reach 100,000 construction workers in their first year.
The Grafter community
Here at Grafter we admire all work to tackle this prevalent issue and we’re proud to showcase such a worthwhile cause. What can seem like a daunting problem can be lessened when you’re surrounded by people facing the same career stresses as yourself. If you’re suffering from workplace loneliness caused by being self-employed, professional construction networks like Grafter can help you to find new contacts and professional relationships as well as the work or workers that you need.