Construction firms have been encouraged to check in with employees about their mental health ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day this weekend (10 September).
The construction sector sees a higher than average rate of suicide, with two construction workers dying by suicide every day, according to Mates in Mind, a charity that aims to reduce mental health stigma in the sector.
The UK as a whole saw 6,221 suicides registered in 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mates in Mind said early intervention by employers is key to reducing the suicide rate in the sector, as well as ensuring that individuals who are struggling with their mental health feel able talk about their worries and seek support before reaching crisis point.
To support these conversations, it has developed a Suicide Prevention Day resource hub for employers.
Managing director Sarah Meek said: “Opening up an honest conversation about mental health in the workplace continues to be the most immediate and effective starting point. We cannot underestimate this important first step – helping to provide clear language, create general awareness and supporting people to recognise that everyone has mental health which can vary depending on circumstances and life stresses.”
Mental health in construction
She added that the impact of work-related stress cannot be ignored, and noted that discussions with line managers can often help address some of an individual’s worries.
Earlier this year, research by Mates in Mind and the Institute for Employment Studies found that fewer than one in five construction workers sought support from their GP for their mental health and only 3% had counselling or therapy.
The report advised construction sector employers to avoid using clinical language if they wanted to engage employees in conversations about mental health.