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So, why is mental ill-health such a problem in the construction sector?

Why is mental ill-health such a problem in the construction sector?

Poor mental health in the construction industry accounts for over 200 suicides per year. The truth of it is, construction workers are prone to anxiety, stress and depression for various reasons. What's more is that these factors lead to 400,000 lost working days each year. 

As well as the large number of workers in construction suffering from mental ill-health, there is a lack of recognition and support offered to them. Construction News surveyed 3,400 construction workers, which showed that 73% of respondents felt employers didn't recognise the early signs of mental health problems.

Alongside mental ill-health resulting in a large number of lost working days, there can also be physical effects on workers. Stress has been known to cause such things as headaches, an increased risk of heart attacks and high blood pressure. Additionally, there can be an increase in alcohol and tobacco intake associated with mental health (mainly stress) too.

Why is mental ill-health such a problem in the construction sector?

Some of the Key Factors Leading to Mental Ill-Health in Construction:

  • Heavy Workloads
  • Long Working Hours
  • High-Risk Tasks
  • Lack of routine
  • Frequent Travelling
  • Separation from Family
  • Working in Isolation
  • Lack of job security or Unsteady Wage (contractual working), and
  • Tight deadlines

"Macho Culture"

As construction is a predominantly male industry, it is known for its "macho culture". This can end in workers feeling like they have to get on with things and not speak up about what they are struggling with mentally and emotionally. This can come from the workers themselves, as well as the groups of people they surround themselves with. 

This culture makes it hard for men to ask for help when they need it, even with day to day problems or tasks. Sometimes they don't even know where to ask for the right help. 

Some men also don't know how to express their emotions, whether it is regarding money, relationships or anything in and around work. Resulting in mental ill-health and, in worst cases, suicide. 

Moving Forward

The best thing that we can all do (employers and employees alike) is TALK. 

Workplaces should encourage people to talk about their feelings and get comfortable with talking about them. They should create a culture where guidance and solutions are offered and honesty is definitely the best policy. 

Those in leadership positions should be trained in identifying signs of mental ill-health and giving guidance on how to deal with these situations.

Once strategies and programs have been put in place for mental health, everyone should have access to them and know where to find them.

Finally, KEEP TALKING. Mental Health support should not just be set up and then left. The topic should be spoken about regularly and employees and employers should help one another to speak up should they be struggling with mental ill-health. 

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