Simon Midgley, a mental health ambassador at East Midlands-based housebuilder Fairgrove, explains why construction is facing a silent crisis in the form of poor mental health
CIOB research shows that male workers in particular are three times more likely to commit suicide than their counterparts in other industries.
Stress, anxiety and depression make up a fifth of work-related illnesses. Construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than falling from a height at work, which is a truly sad and shocking statistic.
According to CIOB president Charles Egbu, the current mental health crisis has been caused by multiple factors often seen in the construction industry.
I truly believe investing in employee mental health support is vital to the health of the construction workforce. There shouldn’t be a stigma attached to mental health, especially for males
Job instability, pauses in work due to the weather, links to seasonal depression, and concerns around delayed payments and wages, combine with long working hours.
All of these factors can contribute to a decline in mental health among construction workers. These issues must be addressed by employers.
Investing in staff
I recently enrolled on the latest course by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, which offers guidance and training to support mental health in the workplace and beyond.
I truly believe investing in employee mental health support is vital to the health of the construction workforce. There shouldn’t be a stigma attached to mental health, especially for males, which is why Fairgrove is investing in our staff to support their wellbeing.
We have a great atmosphere at our office and sites across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and our workforce is aware that they are able to speak to our trained mental health ambassadors if they need somebody to turn to.
Support for the next generation
It’s critical that the next generation of workers feel supported and secure at work.
Many young people have been negatively impacted by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. This followed on from a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic, which resulted in a global mental health disaster for many.
Charities such as the Lighthouse Club provide support to those who need it most in the construction community – the charity offers a Wellbeing Academy, a 5 Step Framework and Building Mental Health programmes.
In March 2022, Fairgrove signed up to the Home Builders Federation’s Mental Health Awareness campaign. It also became an official partner of Building Mental Health, an online portal created by industry experts that provides support and advice to increase awareness of mental health across the sector.
Tools for mental health
Resources available as part of the campaign, for construction workers in need, include Tool Box Talks, online tutorials, helpline packs and mental health first aid training courses.
It is important that our team feel as though they can approach me either through a face-to-face chat or a conversation over the phone.
All businesses across the industry, whatever their size, have a responsibility to ensure they are providing support for their people and improving mental health awareness.
Simon Midgley is land director and a mental health ambassador at Fairgrove.