With long and demanding hours, projects that are often away from home and the worry of obtaining work contracts, it’s easy to see why construction workers are prone to stress and mental health problems.
At last year’s IOSH Construction Conference, Kevin Hear from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) commented that poor mental health in the industry is a ‘silent epidemic’. He also stated that depression, anxiety and stress disorders are now the most reported workplace health issues in the construction sector.
With this in mind, we’ve created a list of things to look out for—whether it’s for yourself or a work colleague—to ensure that anyone suffering from mental health issues in the industry is diagnosed and properly supported. We’ve also come up with some top tips for employers, so that they can make a difference in the workplace and support their employees.
Things to look out for
Whilst mental health problems can present themselves in several ways, there are some common signs that might indicate someone is suffering from work-related stress. These include:
– Sleep issues, which can lead to problems functioning the next day. Dropping tools or tripping up could be signs of this.
– Changes in personality such as irritability, social isolation or loss of interest in things that they used to enjoy.
– Increasingly frequent health problems such as chest pains, headaches or stomach upsets.
– Turning up late for work, or calling in sick more often.
What employers can do to help
– Make your employees aware of the Construction Industry Helpline. Provided by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, the helpline can provide advice, support and vital information on many areas associated with wellbeing. Whether you’re dealing with anxiety, depression or even debt stress, the CIH are there to support you. They also have a handy app containing a wealth of resources, all of which are available for construction workers and their families 24/7.
– Invest in mental health training. Did you know that poor mental health is now the top cause of staff absence? The charity Mind offers training sessions to help you promote good mental health and wellbeing within your organisation, and to help you spot the signs if any of your employees are struggling. Another great charity that offers training for employers is Mates in Mind, which focuses specifically on mental health in the construction industry.
– Have a culture check. Something as simple as assessing your company’s culture could actually make a big difference to the wellbeing of your workers. By sending out an anonymous survey or getting a third-person to interview your staff, finding out what’s ‘working’ and what’s ‘not’ could bring about positive changes on your site. It will give your employees a chance to open up and talk about their feelings, and hopefully boost the wellbeing and productivity of the workplace.
What you can do
If you work on site, you could make a really big impact. Just asking someone how they’re doing, or seeing if they’d like to grab a coffee could be enough to encourage someone who’s struggling to open up and share their worries. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved!