Construction industry employers are being urged to take mental health more seriously, amid warnings the mental health crisis in the sector is continuing to worsen.
Ahead of Men’s Health Week next week (13-19 June) construction health and safety and employment law firm Citation has launched a ‘Building Minds‘ campaign to highlight the lack of training among managers, which it argues is amplifying a mental health crisis in the sector.
The construction sector has some of the worst rates of mental health for any other sector in the UK, with men in the industry three times more likely to die from suicide than the average male.
Research carried out by Citation has found that, despite this, 72% of firms in the sector admitted to having no dedicated policy for providing mental health support.
Moreover, even though manager mental health training is widely considered one of the most effective ways of reducing employee mental ill health, the research also highlighted more than 70% of managers in the sector are unsure of what support they can offer struggling staff members.
More than three quarters (78%) of construction employers believed staff remain uncomfortable speaking about mental health, with 77% stating their staff avoid talking about it as they think it shows ‘weakness’.
Health within construction
As well as perceived stigma, employers felt stresses from general life (64%) and working long hours (52%) also fed into the mental ill health mix.
Although the majority of bosses did not currently provide mental health training, more than 82% agreed that more training and support was needed.
Lee Mills, service director at Citation, said: “There is a lot of work that needs to be done by employers in the construction industry. The dire rates of mental health issues in the sector can’t continue, and the most effective way of tackling these is through training.
“Not only does training equip managers with the tools to support struggling employees, it also gives them more confidence in talking about the topic, which in turn, filters down to the wider workforce, helping to lessen the perceived stigma around it.”
As part of its Building Minds campaign, Citation has teamed up with the construction industry trade body The National Federation of Builders (NFB) to find solutions on how to address the perceived stigma around mental health.
Danny Clake, commercial director at NFB, said: “The gendered nature of construction presents a key concern when attempting to tackle the high suicide rates. Males who are employed in male-dominated occupations have been found to be less likely to seek help from a mental health professional. Primarily, men tend to be in full-time employment, with greater job strain and demands, and lower job control.
“Long working hours, high psychological demands, and work-family imbalance have all presented as significant factors for mental health concerns in men, which are combined with a culture of silence between men around discussing mental health.
“Promoting mental health initiatives in the workplace gets a conversation going, opening the floor for men to feel validated, which may be the difference between them seeking help versus staying silent,” he added.