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Dealing with mental health in the construction industry

Mental health is a critical issue that affects individuals across all industries, but it is particularly prevalent in the construction sector. The demanding nature of the work, coupled with a male-dominated workforce and a culture that often discourages vulnerability, has led to a mental health crisis that can no longer be ignored. 

Here at Tradesman Saver, we explore the challenges faced by tradesmen and discuss strategies for promoting better mental health in the construction industry.

The alarming statistics

The statistics surrounding mental health in the construction industry are sobering. Suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35 in the UK, and in 2020, construction workers were at 3.7 times higher risk of suicide than the national average. 

The pressures of the job, including tight deadlines, long hours, time away from family, and financial stress, can take a heavy toll on mental well-being. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs of supplies have added even more strain to an already challenging profession.

Despite the severity of the problem, many workers feel uncomfortable discussing their mental health struggles. A report by Reed found that over half of all UK employees, and 57% of Millennials, do not feel comfortable disclosing mental health or psychological conditions. This cultural stigma prevents many tradesmen from seeking the support and help they need, further exacerbating the issue.

The impact on the industry

The consequences of poor mental health extend beyond the individual. The Chartered Institute of Building found that 26% of construction industry professionals considered taking their own lives in 2019, and 56% work for organisations with no policies on mental health in the workplace. This lack of support not only puts workers at risk, but also has a significant impact on productivity and the bottom line.

In 2022/23, stress, anxiety, and depression accounted for 49% of work-related ill-health, resulting in 17.1 million lost working days. Deloitte UK estimates that mental ill-health costs businesses £56 billion annually. These figures highlight the urgent need for change within the construction industry.

Breaking the stigma

To address the mental health crisis in construction, we must first break down the stigma surrounding the topic. Education and training are key to creating a culture where workers feel comfortable discussing their struggles and seeking help. Employers have a responsibility to prioritise mental health and provide the necessary resources and support for their staff.

Taking action

As a tradesman, there are steps you can take to prioritise your own mental well-being and support your colleagues:

Educate yourself

Learn about the signs and symptoms of mental ill-health and how to respond when someone is struggling.

Start the conversation

Be open about your own experiences and encourage others to do the same. Creating a safe, non-judgmental space for discussion can make a significant difference.

Prioritise self-care

Make time for activities that promote relaxation and stress relief, such as exercise, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones.

Seek help when needed

If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Whether it’s talking to a trusted friend, seeking professional counselling, or accessing resources through your employer, there is always help available.

In addition to these individual actions, it’s important to be aware of the resources available through your employer or insurance provider. For example, Tradesman Saver offers a confidential staff counselling helpline as part of our standard Legal Expenses Cover. This service provides a safe, private space for tradesmen to discuss their mental health concerns, ensuring they have access to the support they need. 

Tradesman Talk

By breaking the stigma, supporting one another, and demanding better from our employers and industry leaders, we can create a healthier, more resilient workforce.

Share your experiences and thoughts on mental health in the construction industry in the comments below. Together, we can be part of the change and ensure that no tradesperson has to suffer in silence.

Source for all statistics: https://www.matesinmind.org/news/mental-health-in-uk-construction-the-statistics 

Darragh Timlin

With over 25 years’ experience, Darragh is an expert in all things insurance. Starting his career in commercial property underwriting, Darragh has worked for a number of global insurers and is now Managing Director of Tradesman Saver, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Darragh Timlin

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