Construction workers highlighted as sufferers of mental health

Construction workers highlighted as sufferers of mental health

It’s Mental Health Day this month and it’s something we feel, now more than ever, needs highlighting. Especially as our sector (construction) is considered one of the worst industries when it comes to people suffering from mental health issues. 

So far it’s been a hell of a year and one we’ll all be glad to see the back of – from one of the wettest winters on record to one of the biggest events to hit the UK’s economy since World War II, Covid-19. Its impact on peoples’ mental health will be long-lasting and as an industry, we need to be doing more to combat it.

What is the issue in the construction sector?

In spite of the stereotypes that may spring to mind when you think of a ‘construction worker’, they are actually considered some of the UK’s least supported workers when it comes to mental health. Statistically, one of the worst in terms of workers suffering from it combined with one of the highest suicide rates in the UK.

Health and safety is a huge focus in the construction sector but there is a piece missing from the health puzzle – the mental side of things. In an industry that is male-dominated, there’s a perception that if a ‘tough bloke’ were to cry or show their feelings, it would be considered a sign of weakness. This is a harmful perception to hold and prevents people from asking for help when they need it. 

Here’s the shocking reality of it:

  • Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 with male site workers three times more likely to commit suicide than the average male in the UK.
  • Suicide kills more construction workers than falls every year.
  • Depression and anxiety have overtaken musculoskeletal disorders in construction workers.
  • 73% of all construction workers feel that their employers did not understand or recognise the early signs of poor mental health, or offer any support.
  • According to the National Building Specification, mental health accounts for people taking almost 70 million days off sick per year.  This costs the UK economy an estimated £70 billion to £100 billion per year. 

What can we do about it?

Greater awareness of mental health is needed and support from the construction industry as a whole to eradicate the stigma that is associated with mental health. By doing this, more people are likely to seek treatment and talk about their mental health issues. At Cotterill Civils, this is something we are now doing as an employer.

Other useful sources of help include:

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