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London-based charity Mates in Mind teamed up with the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) to propose a ground-breaking new initiative focused on the mental health of self-employed tradespeople and those working for smaller businesses in the construction industry.
They’ve proposed a four-step plan to learn more about the pressures on the mental health of an estimated one million ‘hard to reach’ people either working for themselves or for small and micro construction businesses. The research cites that, whilst an increasing number of employed workers in construction have access to mental health support, a large proportion of self-employed construction workers have access to no such support and remain vulnerable. Very little is known about their support needs nor the best ways to reach them.
Mates in Mind and IES also identified that the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic may only have increased pressures on those working within the industry, with risk of suicide within this sector already being higher than the national average. Data suggests that 97% of construction workers felt stressed at least once in the last year and that 26% had considered taking their own lives in 2019.
Mates in Mind and IES envisage 5 measures of success for the project. First, new evidence of the mental health support needs of self-employed construction workers. Second, practical options for reaching this group with tailored information and support. Third, positive responses from survey and interview participants to some of these support methods. Fourth, a clear specification for at least one mental health support tool which can be piloted in a future study. And finally, publication and wide distribution of the final report across the construction sector.
While there’s an unmet need for mental health support among self-employed construction workers, this need has not been quantified or specified. The best and most reliable methods of reaching this group remain unclear. So, this project aims to shed important light on these questions and find ways of providing practical guidance which will be accessed by an important but hard to reach group.