The construction industry, like many others, is rife with mental health issues that too often go unseen. The stigma around discussing them can be even more difficult to overcome than the symptoms themselves.
This article will explore how mental illness affects the construction industry, how you can help those who need it most and why it's so important to talk about these issues openly in your own workplace.
The construction industry is one of the most dangerous sectors in the UK, but there's another aspect that we're not talking about enough
Mental health problems are more common than you think - every working day in the UK and Ireland 2 construction workers take their own life. The symptoms may vary from person to person but 1/5 of all work-related illness can be attributed to stress, anxiety and depression. Left unchecked, this can lead to a significant impact on an individual's productivity, job satisfaction and overall wellbeing.
It's time to tackle the stigma
The stigma around mental health in the construction industry is a problem that has been long-neglected. It's time for us to tackle this issue head on and change how we think about mental health, as well as how we talk about it.
While some progress has been made in recent years, there are still many ways in which the negative connotations around mental health can affect those suffering with issues and make them less likely to seek help.
For example, the fear of being stigmatised may prevent people from seeking treatment or attending work. If someone feels ashamed of their circumstances, they may be reluctant to tell anyone else about them because they worry people will think less of them if they do so, and this fear can prevent them from getting help when needed most. There are also plenty of misconceptions out there about mental health, which leads many people who are struggling into thinking they're somehow abnormal when really they're just going through an extreme version of what everyone goes through (such as feeling depressed).
Employers need to make a conscious effort to promote mental health awareness in the workplace
Organisations also have a role to play in reducing the stigma around mental health issues. It’s important to ensure that resources are readily accessible for those who have come forward to seek support with their mental health, and that accommodations are made to support their needs.
The benefit is twofold – not only is this the right thing to do for your employees’ wellbeing, it can also contribute to a more positive work culture, increased employee engagement and improved retention rates.
What you can do for yourself
Talk about your feelings. You don't have to share everything with everyone, but it's important to have someone in your life who will listen when you're feeling down or overwhelmed by stress. If there's no one at work who seems like a good fit for this role, consider seeking out counselling from a third party.
Get a good night's sleep. Sleep is essential for good mental health--it helps us stay focused and energised during the day, and also allows our brains time to process information from the previous day so we can learn from our experiences. Sleep and mental health are closely linked: mental ill-health can affect your sleep and poor sleep can affect your mental wellbeing.
Eat well. Eating nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables helps keep our bodies healthy and can improve your sense of wellbeing and mood.
Stay active. Physical activity increases endorphin production within our bodies which makes us feel happier overall.
Who can help you with your mental health?
If you are feeling low, or if you have any concerns about your mental health and well-being, there are people who can help. As a Company Supporter of the Lighthouse Club Construction Charity, we’re proud to promote their free service which offers confidential advice and support to anyone in the construction industry who is struggling with their mental health.
If you would like more information on how the Lighthouse Club can support you, please contact their free 24/7 helpline to talk to one of their trained advisors directly.
UK – 0345 605 1956
ROI – 1800 939 122
It's vital, now more than ever to be more open about mental health in the construction industry - educating ourselves, our colleagues and our clients on how to spot the signs of depression or anxiety so that we can help each other get better.