Why is Mental Health in Construction Important?

 

Mental health in the work place isn’t just good for employees. It’s also good for business owners and managers. The NBS reports that mental health issues are responsible for nearly 70 million days off sick every year. This is costing the UK economy up to £100 billion a year. What is more, problems such as depression, anxiety and high stress also cause common yet serious problems. These problems cause a decreased productivity, interpersonal conflicts, inability to solve complex problems and regular lateness. Mental health in construction is an issue that needs to be resolved.

For employees in the construction industry, getting services such as counselling can literally be a life and death matter. The construction industry accounts for more than 13% of all work-related suicides even though just over 7% of UK workers are employed in construction. A 2006 CIOB report has found that nearly 70% of all UK construction workers have suffered from mental health issues at some point in time. These workers report that their problems are directly related to their work in the construction industry.

The Challenges

It’s not hard to see why construction workers are perhaps more vulnerable to problems than workers in other industries. The construction industry is particularly challenging. Workers are often required to work long hours and/or work away from home for weeks at a time. What is more, most employees in the industry are men. These men are expected to portray a “tough guy” image makes it difficult for those who need help to seek professional assistance.

 

How Construction Companies can Ensure Their Employees Are Looked After

 

Thankfully, there are several things that construction companies can do to promote mental well-being in the construction industry. Following are a list of tips that can make a world of difference for construction workers of all ages and walks of life. These tips can be easily adapted to suit a company’s budget and specific needs.

Create an Awareness

Create an awareness in the company that problems such as stress, anxiety and depression are commonplace and nothing to be ashamed of. Managers and supervisors should be trained to recognise the symptoms of common problems and know how to deal with them as they arise. Regular email communications highlighting the symptoms of and treatments for mental health issues should be sent to everyone in the company. Leaving flyers in communal work areas such as break rooms provides immediately accessible information to anyone who needs it.

Have a Plan

Give employees specific instructions on who they can turn to for assistance in the company itself. In fact, it’s a good idea to give employees several avenues for seeking assistance. Doing so makes it easy for different workers to get help in a manner that they feel comfortable with. It’s also wise to provide contact information for outside professionals from the NHS and charitable organizations.

Preventing Problems

While it is impossible to prevent all mental health problems in the workplace, there are ways to promote the wellbeing of workers in this industry. Encourage workers to take breaks as and when needed. Provide pleasant spaces for workers to mingle and talk with each other. Also spaces for workers who need a quiet time to relax and think on their own.

It’s also important to make sure workers are comfortable with the jobs they have been given. Proper training will prevent costly mistakes and give workers the confidence needed to handle important jobs without anxiety. Hire as many workers as are needed for any given job instead of relying only on a few workers who could easily become stressed out due to having to work long hours for extended periods of time.

Seeking Outside Help

Construction companies should do everything possible to create a healthy and safe work environment for their employees. However, the nature of the industry is such that outside help is almost always necessary to prevent and deal with construction-related mental health issues.

Thankfully, professional help is available from a number of sources. You would be advised to either,

  • Seek help from an employer’s assistance provider that is trained to handle mental health issues. An EAP will have the skills, resources and experience needed to handle challenges particular to the construction industry. What is more, many employer’s assistance providers can adapt their services to suit the needs of any given client.
  • The NHS offers a number of free services as well as practical advice on dealing with a range of issues.
  • Charitable organizations may offer assistance, providing care that can help to reduce the severity of or even eliminate the problems altogether.

The well-being of workers in the construction industry should never be taken for granted. It is one of the most stressful industries in the UK and a wise business owner will be sure to provide his or her employees with the care needed to prevent mental and physical health problems. With proper care and attention, both construction employees and companies will thrive even during challenging circumstances.

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