Why mental health is a top priority in construction
Health and safety isn’t just physical wellbeing, it’s just as important to protect someone’s mental health too. So here’s a look at how the construction industry is dealing with this topic…
Due to the hands-on nature of many building projects, physical health and safety has long been a focus of the industry. Mental health is a growing priority across the UK construction sector, with employers and workers quick to realise its importance.
Recent data suggests almost two thirds of people have experienced mental health issues so employers are increasingly targeting conditions like stress, depression and anxiety to explore options to combat this.
Why is mental health so important?
Good mental wellbeing isn’t just about being happy. In fact, it can have a wide range of benefits – boosting your confidence, helping to build strong relationships and allowing you to deal with change more effectively. In the workplace, it can lead to higher morale, increased motivation and improved productivity.
But on the flip-side, you may be at a greater risk of poor timekeeping, absences from work and illnesses if your head isn’t in the right place. Even if you’re in top shape physically, a mental health condition could make it a real struggle to fulfil your potential.
How construction is tackling the issue…
In the past, mental health has been viewed as a taboo subject by a lot of industries, but this mindset is now changing. The construction industry is now raising more awareness for those within it about what help is out there, and how to encourage and support those battling with their mental health to come forward. Here are just a few of the initiatives around:
- Mates in mind – they seek 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.
- Spotlight On… Mental Health - which highlights how mental health conditions impact all people regardless of age, gender, religion and ethnicity. Run by the Considerate Constructors Scheme, the campaign shows how poor mental health can fuel problems like personal and work-related stress, anxiety and depression.
- Mind Matters - a series of surveys and articles compiled by Construction News to encourage continual improvement in the matter of mental health in construction.
Is there anything I can do?
The above campaigns show just how seriously the building sector takes mental health. But this is a subject that can affect us all. So here are a few practical tips if you find yourself struggling with your mental health, or if you think someone you know might be:
- Find some expert information online - The Construction Industry Helpline delivers guidance on occupational health and mental wellbeing, alongside things like legal and financial support. Charities such as Mind and YoungMinds can also provide assistance.
- Mental health conditions do not mean weakness - Living with depression or anxiety may feel like an isolating experience. But the truth is mental health problems are very common. Whether you’re dealing with a condition first-hand or are looking to support a colleague, it’s important to remember you’re not alone.
- Make a connection - Many of us choose to keep our problems bottled up inside, rather than sharing the load with others. But this is only likely to make things worse. Talking to other people, enjoying a good social life and being open when you require assistance can all enhance mental wellbeing.
- Find your balance - The construction sector is full of passionate people, willing to go the extra mile to get the job done. But this level of dedication can sometimes blur boundaries between work and family life – with potentially damaging consequences for mental health. Securing a good work-life balance is therefore vital to tackle stress and keep everything in perspective.
- Words can be powerful in the culture you create - Mental health conditions are often hidden from view, meaning you never know who might be suffering in silence. As a result, always use respectful language in the workplace to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. By developing a sensitive, genuinely caring environment, those struggling with conditions are much more likely to come forward and open up about their problems.
Want to find out more?
Check out our page on the Changing Culture of Construction