Swapping hard hats for hard chats
Six out of 10 people working in construction have suffered from mental health problems due to their job, and over a third have had to take time off work due to mental health problems, according to a new survey.
Research conducted on behalf of UK Construction Week also found that more than half of construction professionals feel their employer could do more to support mental health.
Mental health problems often stem from financial issues (45%), long hours (41%), and the physical strain of the job (41%). Despite this, only four out of 10 (44%) have actually spoken out about it at work – and this figure rises 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. The problem is particularly acute among the 18-34 age group.
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%). A chat with a friend is considered the most effective mood-booster for a bad day at work, according to respondents (50%), followed by music (46%), exercise (38%) and food (32%).
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%).
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. Men are more likely to prefer anonymous helplines (26% vs 21%).
James Rudoni, managing director ofcharity Mates in Mind, said:“Employers must do more to ensure that the environments in which their workers are operating are improved to sustain an individual’s mental wellbeing, and in turn their businesses overall.”
This year, UK Construction Week put together a Wellbeing Zone in a bid to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing.
Features included: an installation of relaxing swings; the launch of the Mind Your Head campaign; and free yoga and meditation sessions every morning of the show.