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Mental health: The construction industry crisis

The construction industry is facing a silent but deadly crisis – one that threatens the well-being and even the lives of hardworking tradesmen. It’s not a lack of jobs or a shortage of materials, but poor mental health.

For too long, the topic of mental health has been taboo in our industry. We’re expected to be tough, stoic, and able to handle anything that comes our way. But the truth is, the demands of our job (long hours, physical labour, time away from family, and constant pressure to meet deadlines) can take a heavy toll on our mental well-being.

We take a closer look at the mental health crisis facing our industry – and what we can do about it.

The Alarming Statistics

The statistics are alarming. Construction workers are 3.7 times more likely to commit suicide than the national average, and over a quarter of construction industry professionals have considered taking their own lives. Despite these sobering figures, mental health remains a taboo topic on construction sites across the UK.

Reasons for the mental health crisis

The nature of our work can take a heavy toll on our mental well-being. Long hours, tight deadlines, and time away from family all contribute to the mental strain we experience. The physically demanding work and often harsh working conditions only add to the burden.

The impact of financial uncertainty

The post-COVID era has brought increased financial uncertainty, with rising costs of living and materials putting additional pressure on the construction industry. This added stress can further exacerbate mental health issues among workers. 

The ongoing economic challenges make it even more crucial for the industry to prioritise mental health support and resources for its workforce.

The need for a culture change

It’s time for a culture change. We must create a safer and healthier work environment where mental health is prioritised and workers feel supported. This starts with education and awareness.

The role of employers

Employers have a responsibility to provide mental health training for all staff, particularly team leaders who are in a position to spot the signs of struggle in their colleagues. By equipping workers with the knowledge and tools to understand and manage their mental health, we can break down the barriers that prevent open conversations about this critical issue.

Access to support services

Alongside training, companies must also ensure that workers have access to mental health resources and support services. This could include employee assistance programs, counselling services, or partnerships with organisations like Mates in Mind, which specialise in supporting mental health in construction.

Creating a positive safety culture

Creating a positive safety culture is essential. By prioritising the physical safety of workers through proper training, equipment, and protective gear, we can reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with working in a high-risk industry.

Promoting work-life balance

Support doesn’t stop at the workplace – encouraging a healthy work-life balance is crucial for maintaining good mental health. Employers must lead by example, ensuring that workers take their full annual leave and have the flexibility to attend appointments for both physical and mental health needs.

The role of tradesmen

We must look out for one another, checking in on our colleagues and offering support when needed. By fostering a culture of openness and understanding, we can break the silence around mental health and ensure that no worker feels alone in their struggle.

It’s also important to be aware of the resources available through your company 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

As Tradesman Saver, it’s time we had an honest conversation about mental health in our industry. We’re losing too many good people to suicide, and it’s up to us to make a change. Let’s start by looking out for each other on site. 

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. 

Dean Laming

Dean Laming is a Chartered Insurance Broker with more than 25 years insurance experience. Through various underwriting, operational and management roles, Dean has built up extensive knowledge of how to run a business and is now Managing Director of Tradesman Saver, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Dean Laming

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