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Industry | 30 Apr 2024

The Latest Information and Initiatives on Mental Health in the Construction Industry (2024)

The Latest Information and Initiatives on Mental Health in the Construction Industry (2024)
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In September last year, Prince William visited a MACE London construction site – for an upcoming Microsoft news data centre – and spoke to workers there about mental health issues. It was an event orchestrated in collaboration with mental health charity Mates in Mind, and the issue at hand was the famously concerning statistics of male suicide in the industry.

Those stats again:

  • Male construction workers in the UK are almost four times more likely to die by suicide than the national average.
  • 700 people a year take their lives in construction-related suicides.

Causes and Symptoms

Work-related suicides, and poor mental health in general, are caused by a myriad of complicated reasons, but common contributors are increasing pressures on workers in relation to their workloads, and the associated time pressure. Day in day out, there are workers feeling stressed, anxious, and depressed. Incredibly, a quarter of all workers in the industry have considered taking their own lives.

These operatives work in dangerous environments, where a slip, fall, or drop of equipment could lead to serious consequences. There are struggles with fatigue, concentration, confidence, and a lack of job stability too. Long hours, lengthy commutes, and time away from family only exacerbate the issue. And there’s the obvious one, the headline statement that slightly misses the finer detail:

As Prince William said about male workers: ‘It’s a harder to reach group. We don’t talk openly enough.’

Macho culture, and messages like ‘Men don’t cry’ or ‘You have to be strong’ or that men ‘Need to be able to do everything’ contribute to this multi-faceted problem.

How does Mental Health affect Businesses?

As if we needed any more motivation to tackle this issue than what’s already been said and written. Business leaders looking for motivation in addressing the mental health crisis in construction should settle their ideas around two broad concepts.

First, that poor mental health is incredibly costly. The annual bill for the nation as a whole is between £74 billion and £99 billion. Mental health conditions account for 12.4% of all sick days.

And second, that there is a legal obligation for construction companies to address the issue. Liz Goodwill, head of work-related stress and mental health policy at HSE, discussed this in an article last month: ‘The law requires all employers – whether you’re a demolition firm or scaffolding business – to carry out a stress risk assessment and act upon the findings.’

That this is true makes the following statistics concerning:

  • Only 71% of businesses have a policy in place for mental health.
  • Only 5% offer fatigue management plans despite 96% experiencing work-related fatigue.
  • Only 45% of respondents to a recent report knew who was responsible for providing mental health support in their workplace.

What New Initiatives Are Helping Battle Mental Health Issues in Construction?

Prince William’s visit to London was evidence that plenty is being done to change attitudes and to make positive steps towards addressing this tragic issue. Hopefully, over time, fewer and fewer families will have to suffer the difficulties of supporting loved ones suffering through a mental health crisis, or the heartbreak of losing someone.

Mates in Mind

Mates in Mind is a leading UK charity raising awareness and addressing the stigma of poor mental health. They promote and lead on the development of positive mental wellbeing within the workplace. The idea is to prevent issues from starting, or if they do start for companies to have systems in place that stop issues from spiralling out of control. They focus on construction, but also help related sectors including transport, logistics, manufacturing, and others.

Mates in Mind aims to provide clear information to employers about the available support and guidance on mental health and wellbeing, and how they can address this within their organisations. They also provide training courses aimed at different people within a company, from directors to operators.

Their contact number is 020 3510 5018. They offer plenty of free resources and a callback service to get companies moving in the right direction.

Their YouTube channel includes some informative material too.

Lighthouse Club

Lighthouse say, ‘​We have to educate everyone in our industry to recognise the signs and symptoms of our colleagues that are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression and start the conversation to assist in their recovery. Every working day, two construction workers take their own life.’

Lighthouse provide ‘emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing support to the construction community and their families’. They provide ‘a wide range of free and widely available pro-active resources to support the industry’.

Their Wellbeing Academy courses offer a variety of courses that support everyone in the industry, from ‘soft skills training through to MHFA accredited qualifications.’

Lighthouse outline 5 simple steps to improve the mental health culture in any organisation:

  1. Sign the Building Mental Health Charter
  2. Order a Helpline Pack and promote the free 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline to your colleagues
  3. Deliver a ‘Tool Box Talk’ about mental health and wellbeing in your workplace
  4. Offer employees who manage people the opportunity to complete Mental Health First Aid training
  5. Ensure you have enough Mental Health First Aiders trained for your workplace (recommended 1 per 100 employees)

They have links, resources, and more information about these steps on their dedicated Building Mental Health website.

Significantly, Lighthouse also offer a free course on suicide awareness that runs between once and twice a week on a regular basis. The course promises to ‘help enhance your understanding of the common reasons for suicide, spot the signs of suicidal thoughts and behaviour, and equip you with skills to approach and talk to someone at risk and how to ensure their safety.’ This is a tutor-led course.

Bespoke training options also exist. Their contact number is 0345 605 1956 in the UK and 1800 939 122 in the Republic of Ireland.

Their YouTube channel similarly contains a lot of useful information and case studies, and their #makeitvisible campaign is specifically aimed at reaching out to businesses to let them know ‘about the free [and] crucial support services [they] can provide.’ They visit construction companies to help spread the message of support.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with your mental health, there are plenty of ways to reach out and talk to someone.

Lighthouse Charity 24/7 Helpline:
0345 605 1956 (UK) 1800 939 122 (ROI)

Or request a call or email

Businesses looking for advice or courses should contact:

Lighthouse Charity 0345 609 1956 / info@lighthouseclub.org

Mates in Mind 020 3510 5018

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