Mental Health in Construction - What you can do
Following suicide prevention week and in preparation for World Mental Health Day on 10th October, we have put together a guidance blog for those in the construction industry. We know the suicide rate is extremely high in this industry but what can you do to tackle this? What can you do to help your employees/colleagues?
Breaking the stigma
In an environment dominated by men (over 80% of the workforce), it can be hard to talk about stress and anxiety. The first thing you need to do is break the silence. If nothing else, you should open up the conversation with those around you and be open to talking and hearing about the topic of mental health within the workplace.
There are different ways of opening up this conversation with those you work with. Some companies have check-ins with employees where performance and work isn't the topic of discussion. The discussion is simply a catch-up, 'What's going on?' just the same as a 'morning brew chat' except it is done in private. It allows the employee the opportunity to speak freely and voice any concerns or worries they have directly to the employer. Or it simply allows the employee to chat with their employer and feel valued in the company.
It is so important for people in this industry to start breaking down these barriers. Although you may not see it, people can be struggling behind closed doors. Allowing the conversation might make the difference.
Relaxation and meditation
It's unlikely you are going to get a bunch of lads to start meditating on site in between brick-laying. However, a dedicated break and the presence of the manager/employer can make a real difference to someone's day.
Taking just 10 minutes out of the day to get people together is a great idea to implement relaxation within the working day. This can be as simple as getting a few chairs out, making everyone a brew and just forgetting about the work for 5 minutes. This acts as a reset within the working day and again, makes people feel valued.
This isn't a normal brew-break as often people continue to work through a break, or rush through their lunch eating alone. This is a time to relax and simply reset.
A monthly event
This doesn't have to be anything special at all but having a set monthly event can really allow people to open up and speak freely about how they are feeling. For example, an easy and effective monthly event is having an hour at the pub on a particular day once a month. This is particularly helpful as it takes people out of the work environment to a place that is more relaxed and social.
The most important thing is that people are able to talk freely about mental health - you don't need to act as a counsellor or adviser. Listening to someone and giving your time to them is often very helpful.
We have implemented the monthly pub trip at Just the Job Supplies and it works perfectly to end a week and relax with colleagues. Everyone here is a big fan!
More Corporate methods
The ideas above are simple and effective tips that anyone can implement. However, many companies are putting in action-plans and skilled mental health first aiders in the the workplace.
Financial issues can be very serious and affect mental health to the point of suicide. One way companies can tackle this is to implement money management courses for employees - this is especially important within the construction industry, as workers may be away from home for longer periods of time. This can lead to poor financial decisions and addictions - gambling or alcohol.
This would be particularly beneficial for lower-paid roles and roles that require staying away from home for extended periods of time.
You are not responsible for other people's mental health. If you, yourself are struggling, that's okay and it is okay to focus on yourself for that very reason.
Implementing kindness and compassion wherever you can is the best way you can ensure you are doing your bit. Anything more is a bonus. BE KIND.
If you would like to read on about this, here are a couple of informative posts on suicide within the construction industry: