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The Silent Epidemic within Construction


Men in the UK are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. However, in construction – a male dominated industry– men are three times more likely to die by suicide than the national average for men.

Construction work has a variety of pressures from tight contracts to long hours, time away from loved ones and managing budgets, not to mention the added stresses of the pandemic and now the rising costs of supplies. Additionally, within construction lies a “macho” culture which prevents many workers from seeking support and help when they may need it, putting further stress on their own mental health and wellbeing.

It is important for employers and individuals to know just how important mental health awareness and support is to workers and the statistics below highlight how needed the change is within the industry.

According to CIOB.ORG:

Two people working in construction in the UK die by suicide every day. Over 700 per year.

48% have taken time off work owing to unmanageable stress

91% have felt overwhelmed and 26% have expressed suicidal thoughts

Our Survey Results

In December 2021, we published our early findings from our major study of the mental health of self-employed construction workers and those working in small firms. Our preliminary results showed that intense workloads, financial problems, poor work-life balance, and COVID-19 pressures on the supply of materials are combining to significantly raise stress and anxiety levels. This mainly male workforce has long been known to contain workers who are reluctant to talk about their mental health. Preliminary survey findings from over 300 respondents suggest that almost a third are now living with elevated levels of anxiety each day. Construction workers from a range of trades that are often hard to reach, from bricklayers, to groundworkers to plasterers, told researchers from Mates in Mind and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) that the continuing stigma of mental illness prevents them from discussing it beyond close friends or family members.

A third of construction workers suffer with elevated levels of anxiety every day

44% worry that their workload is too high

Over two thirds of construction workers believe there’s a stigma surrounding mental health which stops them from talking about it.

Almost half find it hard to talk about their mental health.

Additionally, a report by the Chartered Institute of Building found that 26% of construction industry professionals thought about taking their own lives in 2019 and 56% of construction professionals work for organisations with no policies on mental health in the workplace.

Furthermore, stress, anxiety, and depression account for one-fifth of work-related illnesses, resulting in 70 million days off sick per year at an estimated annual cost of £70bn-£100bn according to the National Building Specification.

What can be done?

Education and training is key to eliminating the stigma. Mates in Mind has empowered hundreds of organisations across the UK to tackle the silence surrounding mental ill-heath and embed a positive culture change within these workplaces. Working alongside our partners, sector leaders and growing community of Supporters, we are able to deliver effective change across UK by providing the skills, clarity and confidence to employers on how to raise awareness, improve understanding and address the stigma of mental ill-health.

Be part of the change.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how we can help you. Whether you’re part of a business or an organisation looking to bring in more mental health support for its employees. Find out more by getting in touch.

Contact details:

Or email Support@Matesinmind.org

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