Mental health in construction

How do you tackle a hidden problem that is prevalent across the industry?

For those involved in the construction industry, mental health problems often go unseen. But with 1 in 4 construction workers having considered taking their own life1, isn’t it about time it was given more attention?

The conversation about mental wellbeing in the construction industry has already begun, with initiatives like Mates in Mind and Building Mental Health working to raise awareness and provide guidance. But there is still much work to be done.

So, what can you do to help improve mental health in construction?

Get help when it’s needed – mental health support for construction workers

There are many confidential services that provide telephone support for mental health. The important thing is to reach out if you, or someone near to you, has any concerns.

Construction Worker Helpline – call 0808 801 0372

Our Charitable Trust provides a confidential helpline for workers in the construction industry to get free support and guidance in times of need. The Construction Worker Helpline is there if you:

  • need help with debt or money worries
  • think some counselling would benefit you
  • want some guidance about housing and social welfare
  • struggle with mental or physical health issues.

You can call us in confidence on freephone 0808 801 0372 between 8am and 8pm 7 days a week.

No matter what industry you work in, there’s lots of other helplines that can provide anyone with free, confidential mental health support:

Get involved – mental health resources for construction employers and workers

An understanding of mental wellbeing issues and having the confidence to talk about them is the first step towards ending the stigma that causes many to suffer in silence.

Below are a few useful websites that can help you learn more and start the conversation about mental health with employees and/or colleagues – but there are lots more available too.

Building Mental Health logo

Construction-specific mental health resources:

  • Building Mental Health – resources, mental health first aid training, charter to demonstrate commitment to improving mental health in the construction industry
Mates in Mind logo
  • Mates in Mind – tools and guidance for organisations and workers, mental health first aid training

Sector-wide mental health resources:

MHFA graphic, mental health first aid is just as important as physical first aid

  • Health and Safety England – information and guidance on managing work-related stress, ‘Talking Toolkit’ for line managers
  • Mental Health First Aid England – training for individuals and organisations, resources including a toolkit for supporting young people’s mental health
time to change logo
  • Time to Change – resources, guidance on supporting someone you know, personal stories, information on different types of mental health conditions
  • Zero Suicide Alliance – online training, information, resources and awareness raising, including their Big Brew campaign

How we’re raising awareness and supporting the industry

Poor mental health is a growing problem across all sectors with 595,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017-182. And in construction, mental health conditions make-up about 1/6th of all ill health3.

Although there’s currently no legal requirement to provide health surveillance for mental health, it doesn’t mean it’s a problem we can ignore.

One of the challenges, is that as there are so many types of mental health conditions, there’s not one single way of monitoring or measuring who might be at risk of developing a condition. One type of assessment will not cover every condition.

It means the health-at-work management scheme we’re developing won’t cover mental health, at least not to begin with. But we’ll continue to review the situation and monitor new assessments for mental health conditions. Once an appropriate assessment has been developed and validated, we’ll add it to the scheme.

In the meantime, we’re working to raise awareness about improving mental health in construction, and supporting the incredible initiatives that already exist, including B&CE’s own Charitable Trust.

As well as providing the Construction Worker Helpline, our Charitable Trust aims to provide:

  • financial help for people in times of need
  • grants towards education, training and retraining
  • grants towards occupational health and safety initiatives.

In 2018, the Charitable Trust awarded our annual B&CE Mowlem Award to Mates in Mind to support their work within the construction industry. Their Executive Director spoke about what the £20,000 grant meant to the charity…

We’re delighted to be a recipient of the B&CE Mowlem Award. It recognises the work Mates in Mind and our programme’s partners, business and charitable champions, and their employees do in bringing about an improved understanding of mental health and wellbeing. It sends a strong message about the role that workplaces can play in supporting workers’ mental health.

Joscelyne Shaw, Executive Director for Mates in Mind
Working with industry to get it right

We’re developing an occupational health management scheme to help the construction industry to manage health-at-work. We’re dedicated to delivering a solution that’s in the best interest of workers – so we’re working with representatives from construction and occupational health to get it right.

1 Source: Construction News, Mental Health: What’s changed in 12 months?, 2018

2 Source: Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Health and safety at work – summary statistics for Great Britain, 2018

3 Source: HSE, Construction statistics in Great Britain, 2018