World Mental Health Day 2019
Every working day, in the UK, two construction workers take their own life, according to data from the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity.
Thursday 10th October 2019 marks World Mental Health Day. Across the world, stakeholders will be discussing work around mental health and what more needs to be done. World Mental Health Day was launched by the World Federation for Mental Health, with the aim of ‘raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health’. This year’s theme is a focus on suicide prevention.
Mental Health in the Construction Industry
2019 also marks the release of the third annual Mind Matters survey from Construction News. This year’s survey sought to determine the key contributing factors to poor mental health among workers in the industry.
Out of 1,580 respondents, 74% cited long working hours as having the most negative effect on their mental wellbeing. This, combined with poor work life balance, has been identified as a ‘consistent problem harming mental health in the industry’. Respondents included those who work in offices as well as those working on sites. In a bid to reach more people with the survey, for the first time, the survey was taken to workers on site using tablets.
The second biggest contributing factor was job uncertainty, with 71% citing it as a ‘major cause’ of poor mental health. While 69% said tight deadlines were a contributor. Other factors included financial pressures, bullying and lack of support from management, unrealistic workloads, poor management, exclusion, unfair treatment, working away from home and negative workplace culture.
Nearly half of survey respondents (48.3%) reported taking time off work for unmanageable stress and mental health issues, marking an increase on last year’s survey results.
The key is better mental health provision and understanding for workers. Mark Starling, safety, health and environmental manager and mental health first aid trainer at Kier says,
“The more we can make mental health first aid accessible…at that first point of contact, the more chances there are of them getting help.”
Change is Coming
Many believe that positive change is coming. William Barrett, Francis Construction managing director believes that the younger generation of workers are helping to ensure mental health is increasingly on the agenda. “There has been a cultural change within construction and now we are becoming more aware of how to create the best working environment”, he says.
Since the launch of the Mind Matters survey in 2017, progress has been made towards tackling the stigma in the industry around mental health. A greater number of initiatives such as mental health first aid training have been launched and 7 out of 10 respondents agreed that mental health awareness had improved in the past 12 months. With greater awareness, people are more willing to talk to their colleagues and line managers about their mental wellbeing. The conversation around mental health is certainly gaining momentum.
There is still a way to go, however. 90% of respondents felt there was not enough support provided for those struggling, while 78.3% believe a stigma still exists.
Prioritising Employee Wellbeing at B&A Group
Here at B&A Group, we are passionate about supporting and looking after our valued employees, which is why we have recently launched an online Employee Hub and Benefits Portal. We have teamed up with Smart Hive/Busy Bees Benefits to launch this scheme, with the aim of letting employees know they are appreciated and rewarding their dedication with a range of perks and benefits.
Benefits include an Employee Assistance Programme, which offers a 24/7 confidential independent counselling and advice service. Workers can access up to six face to face counselling sessions to talk through issues they may be facing, such as anxiety, depression, stress management, bereavement, personal relationship issues, legal services, finance and debt, nutrition and more. There is also a phone service which is available for partners and dependents.
Not only that, but the Hub also includes free resources on financial wellbeing, with advice on taking control of debt and financial goal setting.
We hope this Hub will be a valuable resource for our employees, as we continue working to prioritise and safeguard employee wellbeing. To find out more about the Hub, read our recent blog post.