Mental health in the construction industry

Bob Newall
Business Development
Executive

One of our Sarnafil installers, Contour Roofing, recently tweeted about a ‘Mental Health First Aid Course’ workshop they were holding for their staff on the subject of mental health. It made me think how this was such an important issue to take up and questioning whether we have been guilty of overlooking mental health when it comes to the construction and roofing industry. According to statistics one in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point.  Working in the construction industry can be stressful and feel pressurised and shockingly make site workers in construction are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average UK male.

Data from the Official of National Statistics found that between 2011 and 2015, of the 13,232 in work suicides recorded, those within the skilled construction and building trades made up 13.2% – despite construction accounting for little over seven percent of the UK workforce.

Mates in Mind is a registered charity, Established in 2016 by the Health in Construction Leadership Group with the support of the British Safety Council, as well as with other leading organisations and charities such as Mind, Samaritans and Mental Health First Aid England. The charity aims to raise awareness, address the stigma of poor mental health and improve positive mental wellbeing in construction and related industries across the UK.

According to the Mates in Mind website the charity aims to:

  • Raise awareness and understanding of mental health and mental ill-health.
  • Help people understand how, when and where to get support.
  • Break the silence and stigma through promoting cultures of positive wellbeing throughout the industry.

Interestingly they see one of the biggest challenges is in reaching small and medium sized enterprises. Working collaboratively through supply chains and with trade bodies they are confident that they will be able to achieve their aims. This resonates with us as many of our Roof Assured by Sarnafil installers fit into SME category which is why it is so good to see Contour Roofing placing mental health and mental ill health on their training agenda.

Physical health and safety is already taken extremely seriously in the construction industry.  However statistics suggest that the most dangerous thing on a building site is the human mind.  It’s time that mental health and safety is given the same level of thought, time and investment as other site hazards to make sure workers are fully protected (source UK Construction online).

Mates in Mind makes a compelling case for raising awareness: “Right now, one in six workers in the UK is experiencing depression, anxiety or stress. Suicide is now the leading cause of death in men between 15 and 49.  Three out of four suicides are men.  Too many men are struggling alone”.

Sobering statistics.

Jon the Action and get the construction industry talking about Mental Health visit https://www.matesinmind.org.

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