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Last updateThu, 16 Jun 2022 8am

Construction bosses urged to take employee mental health more seriously

  • Ahead of Men's Health Week (13th - 19th June) Citation has launched its Building Minds campaign to highlight the lack of training amongst managers, which is amplifying the mental health crisis in construction
  • An overwhelming 70% of managers aren’t aware of what support they can offer struggling employees
  • More than three quarters of employers believe macho culture and lack of education around mental health is the root cause of the perceived stigma in the industry 
  • Citation has teamed up with industry trade body The National Federation of Builders (NFB) to launch a free webinar on 16th June to help managers and employers better support staff

As part of its Building Minds campaign, health and safety expert Citation, is urging bosses in the construction industry to take employee mental health more seriously as the mental health crisis in the sector continues to worsen.

The construction sector has some of the worst rates of mental health than any other sector in the UK, with men in the industry three times more likely to die from suicide than the average male*.

In an industry notorious for its poor mental health rates, research carried out by Citation has found that 72% of firms in the sector admitted to having no dedicated policy for providing mental health support. 

Despite manager mental health training being one of the most effective ways of reducing employee mental health struggles, the research also highlighted more than 70% of managers in the sector are unsure of what support they can offer struggling staff members. 

Whilst having trained managers can help to manage existing mental health problems in the industry, a statement that more than 80% of construction bosses agree with, Citation also believes more needs to be done to change the culture around mental health in construction.

The health and safety expert’s research found that employers believe the reasons for these high rates of mental health problems are due to the perceived stigma around talking about mental health. The research shows that 78% of construction employers believe staff are uncomfortable speaking about mental health, with 77% stating their staff avoid talking about it as they think it shows ‘weakness’.

These shocking figures show that employers need to work harder to foster a more empathetic culture and create an environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up if they're struggling.

As well as the perceived stigma around mental health, industry bosses agree that there are other contributing factors to the poor rates including stress from general life (64%) and from working long hours (52%).

It’s the employer’s responsibility to create an environment where staff can speak about their mental struggles, and although the majority of bosses don’t currently provide mental health training, more than 82% agree that more training and support is needed.

Lee Mills, Service Director, at Citation said: “There is a lot of work that needs to be done by employers in the construction industry. The dire rates of mental health issues in the sector can’t continue, and the most effective way of tackling these is through training.

“Not only does training equip managers with the tools to support struggling employees, it also gives them more confidence in talking about the topic, which in turn, filters down to the wider workforce, helping to lessen the perceived stigma around it.

“Our research really highlights how serious the perceived stigma in the industry is, and it's time that bosses step up to try and do something about it.”

As part of the Building Minds campaign, Citation has teamed up with the construction industry's longest established trade body, The National Federation of Builders ( NFB) to find a solution on how to address the perceived stigma around mental health.

Danny Clake, commercial director at The NFB, said: “The gendered nature of construction presents a key concern when attempting to tackle the high suicide rates. Males who are employed in male-dominated occupations have been found to be less likely to seek help from a mental health professional. Primarily, men tend to be in full-time employment, with greater job strain and demands, and lower job control.

“Long working hours, high psychological demands, and work-family imbalance have all presented as significant factors for mental health concerns in men, which are combined with a culture of silence between men around discussing mental health.

“Promoting mental health initiatives in the workplace gets a conversation going, opening the floor for men to feel validated, which may be the difference between them seeking help versus staying silent.”

To support bosses looking to provide more mental health support in their workplace, Citation, alongside the NFB, will be hosting a webinar on Thursday 16th June.

Backed by industry bodies the webinar will highlight the current state of mental health in the industry, while looking at how employers can support mental health at work.

To sign up to the webinar, visit Building Minds on the Citation website here.