Unfortunately, the construction and trade industry still has some catching up to do.
In many industries, the social stigma around discussing mental health is quickly fading. Despite the significant improvements in the safety of the the trade workforce in recent years, mental health and wellbeing has become a silent crisis in our industry.
- In Britain, statistics indicate that men working in construction are three times more likely to take their own lives than men on average.
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also recorded 79,000 workers suffering from work related ill-health – a statistic that has remained flat in recent years.
Mental health in the trade, a global issue
There are 1.6 million working people who are suffering from a work-related illness. However, poor mental health is not just a UK problem, but an international one. After all, construction is a high-risk industry, with numerous physical and structural issues.
These run throughout the industry, ranging from long and demanding working hours through to tight and often difficult to reach deadlines. With small businesses the pressure of keeping the business moving, especially though various Covid lockdowns is also an ongoing pressure.
The trade industry’s business model has also led to numerous issues which can affect small and medium sized businesses disproportionately, these include:
As well as these issues there are a number of unique stresses to the trade industry:
- Limited-term contracts
- Long hours
- Often lengthy commutes and time away from family, especially in the contract market
- Pressure to complete work on time and within budget
- The ‘macho’ culture that exists within the industry
Unfortunately, these are seen to be cultural norms in the trade industry. Due to individual differences, some of these factors may be more impactful on a person’s mental wellness compared to other factors. Their job role within the business will also affect which of the above factors will impact them.
The trade industry is a truly rewarding and unique place to work – but at a time when mental ill-health is on the rise, we must make sure that the levels of investment and focus we offer are the same as that of the safety and security of our construction sites.
Research conducted by the HSE and others investigating mental health at work suggests that stable employment can be an important factor for maintaining good mental health. With the UK's economy just beginning to recover from the biggest downturn since the second world war, is it any surprise that small business owners in the trade have felt the pressure?
Peer support is really important, and employers should equip and train their employees with the right tools. With this practice, employers can find out which team member is under the pressure of work.
When you identify the mental health of your workers at the early signs and talk about it, this can make a huge difference. Make a healthy and safe environment so that they can freely talk to you about their problems regarding mental issues.
If you want to proactively help your staff and prevent problems related to their mental health, then create a safe and vigorous environment for them.