Building Mental Health Awareness in Construction
May 25, 2022
The highly visible and timely support coincided with this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, which ran from 9th to 15th May, and launches an ongoing partnership with Isle Listen to tackle mental health challenges in the industry.
At a time where housing and living costs continue to rise, the construction industry is under significant pressures in the aftermath of the pandemic from tight contracts and budgets to long hours and the rising costs of building materials. The construction industry – a male dominated sector – has a “macho” culture which can prevent many of those working in the industry from seeking help and support when they may need it, putting further pressures on their own mental health and wellbeing.
A 2020 report by the Chartered Institute of Building found that in the UK, 26% of construction industry professionals thought about taking their own lives, 56% work for organisations with no mental health policies in the workplace, and 87% experienced anxiety. Isle Listen’s early intervention approach looks to support those who might be struggling to avoid the unnecessary escalation that can lead to long-term sickness and absence.
Speaking about Island Aggregate’s support, General Manager, Stephen Smyth said: “The stigma surrounding mental health in the construction industry, including trades from bricklayers to groundworkers, to plasterers, can prevent workers from discussing issues. I firmly believe that greater awareness, education and training is key to eliminating that stigma. It is extremely important to me and our company, that we fully understand just how important mental health awareness and support is to workers. We are passionate about working alongside Isle Listen to ensure our own workforce is equipped with the skills to tackle the silence surrounding mental ill-health and working towards embedding a positive mental health culture across all our sites and the wider industry.”
Isle Listen Chief Executive, Andrea Chambers, added: “The construction industry has long been a male dominated industry, whose workers are often reluctant to talk about their mental health. We work with many employers to equip them and their workforce with the skills and confidence to understand and address mental health issues in the workplace and to take steps to remove the stigma surrounding mental health. We’ve seen a rise in the number of people accessing our service following the pandemic and we’re thrilled that Island Aggregates want to play a prominent role in tackling the mental health stigma in the construction industry.”
In the UK, the National Building Specification highlights that stress, anxiety and depression account for one-fifth of work-related illnesses, resulting in 70 million days off sick per year at an estimated annual cost of £70bn-£100bn.