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Mental Health In Construction

Nov 27th 2018 4:11pm

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As we are beginning to approach the festive season and mental health awareness being more publicized and help being more available than ever. It is important to acknowledge some of the statistics that are dominant within our own industry:

  • Over 1,400 construction workers committed suicide between 2011 – 2015
  • Construction trades have the highest number of suicides of any profession
  • Risk of suicide for those working in building and construction trades is 1.6 times higher than the national average
  • More than a quarter of construction employees have considered taking their own life
  • Workers admit to suffering in silence
  • Many within the industry suffer in silence due to cultural expectations
  • Many workers feel forced to “deal with it,” not seeking out the help they need, and symptoms get worse

The construction industry has the highest number of suicides of any profession with 1,400 workers taking their own lives over the course of only four years. Further statistics show that one in seven workers knows a colleague who has taken their own life and many more workers have considered it.

The risk of suicide for those working in the industry is 1.6 times higher than the national average. In order to reduce these shocking figures we should first address what exactly it is that is effecting and impacting construction workers; some of which are detailed below:

Suffering In Silence

One big factor that jumps out of the many surveys that have been conducted around this topic is the fact that many workers have admitted to suffering in silence due to cultural stigmas that are predominant within the construction industry. Often workers feel like they cannot talk about their troubles and that, if they did want to speak to someone about it, that there is simply nowhere to do so.

It also appears that workers don't feel comfortable reaching our to their boss or senior management with the main causing being “fear and stigma” to do so with as many as 1 in 5 saying they felt their job would be at risk if they did so. Statistics also show that amongst these workers who’ve considered suicide or know a colleague who has committed suicide, 90% do not turn to their employer for support. This then reinforces the cultural pressure to “deal with it,” and results in vulnerable people not seeking out the help they need, and symptoms eventually manifesting and worsening.

It’s Not Just Men Who Are Struggling

Women are finding it equally tough to cope with mental health issues too. 45% of women workers said their mental health was average to poor at present, with 43% saying they had experienced reduced productivity and 75% had experienced loss of sleep too.

So, How To Help Workers?

After compiling the responses from the multiple surveys on mental health in the construction industry, it’s clear that there are three main areas that need to be improved. The first is to have staff training to recognise early signs of mental health, as 73% of respondents felt their employers lacked this skill. Second is to raise awareness of mental health in the construction industry. A massive 83% of workers agree that there isn’t enough out there at the moment. This will also decrease the stigma of mental health. And finally, there need to be more outlets to enable workers to talk about their struggles. Two-thirds of workers believe this would help with another 43% asking for one of those outlets to be an anonymous helpline.

If you are struggling with a mental health issue there are many ways you can find help. Your GP will be able to make an initial diagnosis and point you in the right direction for further treatment. There are charities and third-party organisations that offer free help and listening services such as the Samaritans and SANEline. However, if you are more open about talking about how you are feeling, always talk to friends & family as they will know you better than anyone. Another route could be co-workers or your employer as they’ll be able to relate work-wise with your issues.

Whichever options you choose, the first step is to just talk about it.

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