The month of October is National Mental Health Awareness month. To ensure we are doing everything that we can to support everybody within construction and beyond, we will be providing content and resources throughout the month to spread the message that it is okay to not be okay.
Mental health is not spoke about enough in the construction industry, but why is that? Statistics reveal that the suicide rate amongst those in the construction industry is three times the national average.
It is estimated that on building sites, 99% of the workers are men. Harmful societal stereotypes that portray men (especially those in manual labour roles) as “strong and silent”, has resulted in many men unable to feel safe and secure seeking help from friends, family and medical professionals. Which is why it is so important we use October to encourage those in our industry to reach out – help is just a conversation away.
As the majority of the construction workforce is made up of men, it is extremely important we raise awareness surrounding men’s mental health, but we mustn’t forget about the women working in construction.
The entire workforce within construction is only made up of 11% women. When women are at the workplace, they may feel isolated as they are amongst a handful of other women at their company, and this may lead to mental health issues. Studies also show that the lack of women in the industry is a result of sexism, more than half the women in construction believe they are treated worse than men, due to their gender. If women are being treated poorly at work, not only will this deter them from working within construction, but this could also lead to them experiencing mental health issues.
Reaching an answer on how to battle these endemic issues is no easy feat. As a starting point, the industry at large should be looking to implement strategies and programs that encourage more women and girls to pursue a career in construction. This action would attempt to secure a fairer, more welcoming workplace for all workers, hopefully alleviating discrimination and isolation.
Barbour ABI supports Building People CIC, which is a charity that strives to create connections across the Built Environment to address the industry’s challenges of diversity, skills & social value. On their website they have a dedicated community for women, where they host job opportunities and organisations to encourage more women find a career in the built environment and increase diversity within our industry.
However, it is vital to establish that whether you are a female or a male you can still battle with mental health issues and deserve all the help you can get to overcome those battles.
Spot the signs
It is often difficult to spot someone struggling with mental health issues. If you are a friend, colleague or employer of a construction worker and are worried they may be experiencing issues with their mental health, here are some signs to look out for:
- Increased lateness or absence
- Increased conflict with co-workers
- Decreased productivity
- Lack of appetite and interest in food
- Emotional outbursts – sudden changes in mood and increased irritability
- Changes in behaviour in social settings, which they once enjoyed
What help is out there?
You are never alone. If you don’t want to seek help from a medical professional or the people around you, there are many helplines and online resources which can help you improve your mental health.
- Construction industry helpline – 0345 605 1956
- CALM – 0800 585858 or www.thecalmzone.net if you want to talk to someone via webchat (5pm – midnight)
- NHS urgent mental health helpline – follow the link to find your local helpline (24 hours)