Construction worker in hard hat with his back to the camera

What’s going on under the hard hat?

The construction industry has, for a long time, focused on protecting the physical wellbeing of its workers, for obvious reasons. Construction sites can be dangerous places, but while the hard hat and safety clothing may offer protection from physical risks, what is being done to help support people in the industry who may be struggling with their mental health?


The importance of mental health awareness in the construction industry

The figures are startling. According to the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity:

  • Every single working day, two UK construction workers take their own lives
  • Stress, depression and anxiety accounts for 27% of all work-related illness in construction

We all have mental health. It is how you feel on a particular day – but somebody with poor mental health will have more bad days than good. Mental health issues are common – around one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year. Poor mental health impacts our lives in many ways, including how we handle upsetting and stressful situations, productivity and our ability to make good choices.


Construction industry mental health statistics

A study carried out for Mental Health Awareness Week in 2023 found that 73% of construction workers in the UK suffer mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, at least once a month. 92% of those surveyed said that they did not feel comfortable discussing their mental health with others.

CITB has conducted research into mental health and wellbeing. Its survey found that despite recent improvements, there’s still some way to go. Suicide kills more construction workers than falls from height, and many people work while keeping stress, anxiety and depression hidden from their colleagues.

A survey conducted in 2022 by Mates in Mind revealed that almost a third of the construction workers who took part reported that they live with heightened levels of anxiety each day.


Mental health challenges in the construction industry

Why construction workers are at risk

People who work in construction may be more vulnerable to suffering from poor mental health because of several contributory factors.

The work can be stressful, with construction managers in particular having to meet tight project deadlines. The hours can be long, and for site workers who are outside in all weathers, it can be mentally as well as physically demanding. Job insecurity can be a factor too, with many workers on short-term contracts. In male-dominated industries like construction the working environment can lead to a ‘culture of silence’ and a stigma around mental health issues.

Common mental health issues within the construction industry

According to the Mates in Mind survey mentioned earlier, the members of the construction workforce who suffered from poor mental health said that their stress and anxiety were caused by a range of issues, including intense workloads, financial problems and a poor work-life balance. Many spent time working away from home and their families, and experienced suicidal thoughts. A familiar theme that keeps cropping up in surveys is the stigma that surrounds mental health issues in the construction industry, the difficulties faced in talking about their feelings to colleagues and the lack of support from construction companies.


How is the construction industry supporting mental health?

Improving mental health and increasing the support available is high on the agenda of the industry, which is showing a real desire for change. There are many projects and initiatives that are raising awareness of mental health issues and supporting those in need.

Three male construction workers smiling

Training and education

Fairness, Inclusion and Respect programme

The Fairness, Inclusion & Respect (FIR) Programme is an industry-wide initiative that aims to change the culture of construction and make workplaces better for everyone. The FIR programme provides free, industry-endorsed training, resources and guidance which support businesses to become more innovative and welcoming by addressing workplace cultural challenges. This, in turn, helps attract and retain a wider, more diverse range of workers in the industry.

“Starting the conversation” scheme

“Starting the conversation” is an approach to encouraging people to talk about their mental health. Organisations like Mental Health First Aid (MFHA) England have plenty of tips and ideas to help people build the skills and confidence to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues. The target is to have 10-minute conversations and guide a person struggling with their mental health towards finding the support they need.

Building Mental Health

Building Mental Health (BMH) is a flexible and consistent framework to enable all parts of the construction sector to access mental health support. The framework provides awareness and training and puts in place a structure and systems to support people working in and around the construction industry. It has been created with contributions from clients, contractors, specialist sub-contractors, designers, trade associations, trade unions, regulators and training bodies.


Resources and support

Construction industry helpline

The Construction industry helpline and app provides 24/7 free confidential phone and text support to construction workers and their families, offering help and advice for emotional, physical and financial well-being. 

Mental health first aiders

Mental Health First Aid England runs courses for people to become Mental Health First Aiders. The MHFAider® qualification gives individuals the knowledge and skills to spot signs of poor mental health, be confident in starting conversations and signposting a person to the appropriate support.

The Lighthouse Club

Lighthouse Clubs are regional clubs that support construction families who are in need. There are over 20 around the UK. They are backed by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, the only charity dedicated to providing emotional, physical and financial support to construction workers and their families.

Jewson’s partnership with SIX mental health solutions

The building merchants company Jewson is partnered with SIX Mental Health Solutions (SIX MHS), providing employees with a range of services designed to improve their well-being and foster positive mental health. SIX MHS was founded by the former Arsenal and England footballer Tony Adams. The services of SIX MHS include access to a national network of counsellors, a series of educational seminars, residential treatment for those who suffer from addictive disorders and a 24/7 confidential helpline.


Campaigns and initiatives


#MakeItVisible is an industry-wide initiative that seeks to unite the wellbeing and welfare projects that are happening within construction and make them into one recognisable movement – to make them visible. #MakeItVisible joined forces with CITB to support the world’s largest construction wellbeing check-in.

Mates in Mind

Mind seeks to promote good mental wellbeing while encouraging workers to speak up if they’re having problems. Backed by the Health in Construction Leadership Group and the British Safety Council, the campaign offers training programmes and promotional materials.

Get involved

There are many ways in which people in the construction industry can get more involved in helping to support their colleagues who are experiencing mental health issues.