New survey shines spotlight on mental health needs in construction

Over half of those surveyed feel their employer could do more to support mental health.

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To address an industry that “desperately” wants more mental health support, this year’s UK Construction Week (8th to 10th October) opens with a focus on wellbeing in the workplace.

Outlined in the most recent survey conducted last month on behalf of UK Construction Week, it was revealed that over half (56%) of people in the construction industry have suffered mental health problems at one point in their lives.

A further six out of 10 people (58%) working in construction have suffered from mental health problems due to their work, most often stemming from financial issues (45%), long hours (41%), and the physical strain of the job (41%).

Despite this, only four out of 10 (44%) have spoken out about it at work – with the figure rising to 71% for those aged over 55.

Over a third of respondents (37%) admitted that they had taken time off at work due to their mental health, with only 64% of those telling their employer the reason why.

According to reports, when asked who they would turn to if they were to experience any mental health issues, most construction professionals felt they would be most comfortable talking to a dedicated mental healthcare professional (30%), followed by someone who they get on well with at work (27%).

However, over half of all respondents (56%) felt there was more their organisations could be doing to support the mental health of workers.

Of the support services that they thought would be most beneficial, top of the list was free counselling (39%) or flexible working (39%), followed by a dedicated trained person to speak to (35%), an on-site quiet space (27%), and an anonymous helpline (24%).

There were differences between men and women in the industry about what was needed most.

Women are more likely to prefer allocated wellbeing days (30% vs 17%), an on-site quiet space (34% vs 24%), and flexible working (52% vs 35%) when it comes to tackling their mental health at work – with men more likely to prefer anonymous helplines (26% vs 21%).

Nathan Garnett, event director at UK Construction Week, said: “Awareness about the importance of mental health has grown throughout the construction industry in recent years.

“However, the industry still has a way to go in normalising open discussion about this aspect of health and wellbeing.

“That’s why we put together the Wellbeing Zone at this year’s UK Construction Week. We’re using the country’s largest construction event to host the industry’s biggest discussion and support initiative on mental health, swapping hard hats for hard chats.

“Through signposting to counselling, free employer advice, and the simple sharing of stories, right through to yoga and meditation sessions, exercise and sporting challenges, this year’s UK Construction Week is designed to help as many people as possible.”

UK Construction Week (UKCW) finishes on 10th October, which is also World Mental Health Day.

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