What is Mental Health?
Mental Health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, affecting how we think, feel and behave. From childhood to adolescence, mental health is important at every stage of life. An individual may experience mental health problems where thinking, mood and behaviour are affected. This can be due to many factors such as a family history of mental health problems, life experiences such as trauma or abuse, bereavement and other possible factors. It is important to remember that mental health problems are common but an individual must never feel alone as help is always available.
Mental health in the Construction Industry
The Movember movement, which takes place the whole of November, highlights the importance of men’s mental health, specifically. In the UK, three times as many men as women die by suicide. Men, aged 40-49, have the highest suicide rates in the country. A report by the Chartered Institute of Building found that many construction industry professionals have experienced poor mental health. Many construction organisations do not have policies on mental health in the workplace. Over 70% of respondents have stated that they have experienced anxiety and depression in the year of 2019. With 26% having experienced suicidal thoughts, there is a serious requirement for organisations to support the well-being of their workers better.
How can the Construction Industry support its workers?
Building Mental Health is an initiative, led by a group of volunteers, aimed at providing support and awareness for men’s mental health in the construction industry. They highlight 5 very important key steps to building a supportive culture around mental health in construction.
- A company can show their commitment by signing the Building Mental Health Charter. The objective is to demonstrate a commitment and acceptance that the company engaged will adopt the charter principles.
- Introduce a helpline. The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is an employee-benefit programme offered by many employers. The aim is to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance, health and wellbeing. An organisation should use EAP and order a Construction Industry Helpline Pack, available by phone or via new mobile app.
- Deliver a Mental Health Toolbox Talk. This is beneficial in helping to raise awareness about mental health and to teach people to recognise signs that colleagues might need some support.
- Training line managers and supervisors in what to do when someone mentions a mental health issue is also key to ensuring they can signpost individuals to get the appropriate support.
- Companies should also set a policy to have a healthy ratio of certified Mental Health First Aiders, for every worker or contractor on site, around 1 in 100 employees.
To read more about Building Mental Health resources, on improving mental health in the construction industry, click here.