Now, more than any time in modern history, has our mental health been so important, and at the same time, so visible.
With all our lives turned upside down due to the Pandemic, there is a collective understanding that we are all going through our own struggles right now, and whilst there have been many negatives over the past year, one of the shining positives has been the increased understanding of mental health and how important it is to take care of it.
Mental health as always been partly invisible and hard to diagnose or treat, through a lack of understanding, as well the stigmas attached to it. Discussing your mental health was a taboo subject, not to be spoken about, we just had to get on with it, put a smile on our face and have a stiff upper lip.
What we now know is that poor mental health causes a variety of different disorders and conditions which can seriously impair your quality of life.
As someone who has dealt with mental health issues after being diagnosed with PTSD in 2015, I understand how important good mental health is to my overall wellbeing, and I have developed techniques and sought help to improve it.
I have been involved in the construction industry for around 13 years in a variety of different roles. What I have always enjoyed about it compared with other industries is that the people you deal with are honest and genuine. There is a lack of ‘’corporate speak,’’ people wear their hearts on their sleeves.
But despite this, it is a very hard industry, it is very volatile and companies can easily fall into trouble for a variety of different reasons, with financial trouble being the main reason. With this comes a great deal of stress, anxiety and worry.
In a traditionally male dominated industry, we do not tend to be as good at discussing how we are feeling inside, and we do not like people knowing if we are struggling. There is a ‘’macho culture’’ which surrounds the industry.
It’s no surprise that, whilst both men and women are diagnosed with mental health disorders in equal measure, men are more likely to become dependent on alcohol and drugs and sadly, suicide.
One of most important things that we can all do, is allow people to speak about their problems, but it does not go far enough to simply say, ‘’I’m here if you ever need me.’’ We need to provide a platform, which is safe, for people to express their feelings.
As business owners, we have a moral duty to empower those that we employ to express how they are feeling. How can this be achieved in the construction industry?
- You can provide £250 to your employees each year tax free and is tax deductible. You can entitle this a ‘’wellbeing payment’’.
- Include provisions for mental health in project method statements.
- Have a mental health policy.
- Engage with a mental health professional that you can engage with and can provide support to staff (again this will be tax deductible.)
- Carry out mental health appraisals every 6 months (perhaps with a mental health professional.)
Stressed workers take on average 12.5 million days off a year. If we as business owners introduce measures to tackle this, then days off through stress, anxiety or depression will be reduced.
We all work to provide for our families, to earn money to enjoy the fruits of our labour and to provide for a comfortable retirement. But what is the point if we are not happy and content, life is far too short to be worrying, anxious and depressed and it is so important to ensure that those we work along side and employ know that we care about their mental health and general wellbeing.
John Milton wrote, ‘’ The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..” It can be a very lonely place when you are dealing with mental health issues, but you have the power to change someone’s life by simply giving them the opportunities to express how they are feeling.