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Mental Health In The Construction Industry

Mental Health in Construction

Mental health is an issue that affects all types of people across all types of industries, but there seems to be more of a stigma towards it in the construction industry more than any other. 

With that being said, approximately 23% of construction workers struggle with their mental health and well-being to the point where they are considering leaving the industry.
In fact, suicide is the highest cause of death in the construction industry; even more than falls from a height.

What Is Causing This Increase in Depression In Construction?

Like most jobs, working in the construction industry is extremely demanding and stressful. It can take a physical toll which is understandable as construction workers are manual workers and spend the day on their feet. But there is also a mental side to the job that often gets overlooked.

Construction workers are, typically, required to work unsociable hours and can often lead to working on site away from home for weeks at a time. 
This means they do not always get the work/life balance needed for positive well-being.

The job can also be very unpredictable and workers face a constant lingering uncertainty as to where there next pay slip is coming from especially when the economy is going through any sort of crisis.

All of these factors make working within the construction industry difficult on one’s mental health which is causing this dramatic rise in depression.

Why Is There A Stigma Towards Mental Health in Construction?

The root of this stigma towards mental health in the construction industry stems from the old-fashioned societal idea that men (and construction is a heavily male-dominated industry) must live up to a standard of showing no emotion and being ‘strong, tough guys’. 
This is even more prevalent in the field of construction which is considered the ‘most masculine of jobs’ and, therefore, mental health issues would seem to be scoffed at. 

This makes it difficult for those suffering with depression, or any other mental health issues, to speak up about them.

However, as mental health and well-being becomes more of a talking point in the mainstream and other workplaces and industries take steps towards normalising, accepting and educating on it, it should lead to more discussion within the construction industry too!

Steps You Can Take To Deal With Mental Health in Construction

The very first step that you need to take is to recognise signs of  poor mental health in yourself or your workers. This includes increased lateness or absenteeism, decreased productivity, lack of confidence or socialising and generally a more negative or withdrawn attitude.

Once you have identified poor mental health, you can then take the appropriate actions to deal with it:

  • Educate your workforce on mental health and well-being with a professional workshop, training or just an open conversation so that they are aware of the signs themselves and feel comfortable enough to talk about their struggles with mental health.
  • Make sure that employees have access to and are aware of support that is available to them such as counselling.
  • Provide your own support where possible whether it be having them visit a doctor who can sign them off from work on sick leave for a week or two or allowing them more flexibility with their work so they can spend more time at home.
  • Reduce the stigma and culture on site by encouraging positive, open dialogue and punishing those who are seen to be bullying or harassing colleagues who are struggling with mental health issues.

It only takes a few hours of your time to speak to workers and make sure that everything is okay should you be concerned about their well-being, and it could save a life. So, do your part in this important conversation about mental health in the construction industry.

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