For www.building.co.uk, The Healthy Work Company’s Heather Beach looks at supporting people’s mental health in construction.
With men making up the vast majority of the construction industry, a fair conclusion is that it is male behaviours around mental health that most need to be tackled: by training people in non-judgmental listening and saying it is “OK not to be OK”.
The last few years have seen huge activity in making it acceptable to talk about mental health in construction. Light bulb moments include the discovery that low-skilled workers in construction had a suicide risk 3.7 times the national average in 2011-15, according to ONS data, and the figure that in the UK in 2016 you were 10 times more likely to die from suicide than working at height. The health and safety profession realised they had been “shouting safety and whispering health”, as Steve Hails of Thames Tideway put it. Since then a real commitment has emerged among industry leaders to make a difference.