6 in 10 construction workers suffer work-related mental ill health, survey finds
Thursday 10th October 2019
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Released to coincide with yesterday's World Mental Health Day, the study carried out on behalf of UK Construction Week, found that more than half of people in the construction industry have suffered mental health problems at one point in their lives, most often stemming from financial issues (45%), long hours (41%) and the physical strain of the job (41%). Despite this, only four out of ten (44%) have spoken out about it at work -- and this figure rises to 71% for those aged over 55.
More than a third of respondents (37%) admitted that they had taken time off at work due to their mental health, with only 64% of those telling their employer the reason why. The problem is particularly acute among the 18-34 age group.
When asked who they would turn to if they were to experience any mental health issues, most construction professionals felt they would be most comfortable talking to a dedicated mental healthcare professional (30%), followed by someone who they get on well with at work (27%). A chat with a friend is considered the most effective mood-booster for a bad day at work, according to respondents (50%), followed by music (46%), exercise (38%) and food (32%).
However, more than half of all respondents (56%) felt there was more their organisations could be doing to support the mental health of workers. Of the support services that they thought would be most beneficial, top of the list was free counselling (39%) or flexible working (39%), followed by a dedicated trained person to speak to (35%), an on-site quiet space (27%), and an anonymous helpline (24%).
There were also differences between men and women in the industry about what was needed most. Female workers are more likely to prefer allocated wellbeing days (30% vs 17%), an on-site quiet space (34% vs 24%), and flexible working (52% vs 35%) when it comes to tackling their mental health at work. Men are more likely to prefer anonymous helplines (26% vs 21%).
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published new guidance on how it deals with reports of work-related stress, with a reminder that it is not the appropriate body to investigate concerns “solely related to individual cases of bullying or harassment, but may consider this if there is evidence of a wider organisational failing”.