Promoting Mental Health in Construction

Ways to Promote Mental Health in the

Construction Industry

A career in construction is an exciting but stressful path to take. Research has shown that people who work in the construction industry experience some of the highest levels of stress in the country. Many factors can be attributed to this. The work is, of course, risky. Looming deadlines and extended working hours cause plenty of unwanted strain. What’s worrying is that many crew members avoid dealing with on-the-job stress, preferring to keep everything locked on the inside. The results can be catastrophic.

What Does Mental Illness in Construction Cause?

Work stress can cause unnecessary conflict on site. It tends to result in low morale, which, in turn, culminates in low productivity and absenteeism. The particularly risky nature of construction work also means that stress can trigger a range of dangerous occurrences, endangering the lives of the whole crew. An extreme consequence of work stress and depression can be suicide. A report published in Queensland in 2006 noted that suicide rates are much higher for young men in construction than for their white-collar counterparts. How can construction workers and managers collectively tackle the issue of stress, anxiety and depression on the job?

Implement Mental Health Awareness Programs

Remove the stigma from stress and depression by talking about both conditions openly. Emphasise the importance of mental well-being. Many successful construction companies have introduced mental health practices into mandatory induction training.

It’s also important to create a positive and supportive work environment. Managers should make it clear that any crew-member in need of help and counselling should not be afraid to speak up. Develop a compassionate team dynamic by encouraging workers to talk to one another. A BBQ party of Pub Night, for example, is a good way to allow friendships to form within the crew.

Be Open

In the often ultra-macho environment of the construction site, talking about one’s feelings is a taboo act that is met with much derision. Try and shatter this oppressive culture that prohibits workers from seeking help when they need it. Talk openly about the mental illness and suicide prevention. Make workers aware of the importance of mental health within the construction industry.

It’s also important to be flexible. People experience stress and depression in different ways, so it’s vital to have a range of support systems that not only assist workers psychologically, but also physically, financially and legally.

Make it Easy for Workers to Access Help

Crew members are often reluctant to take their personal issues to HR. Similarly, they might not be inclined to write down a publicly displayed help line. Responsible construction companies should have teams of gate-keepers on call to help anyone in need. Gate-keepers consist of crew members who have volunteered to be of assistance to colleagues who are looking for help. It’s important to ensure that your gate-keepers are kept constantly up-to-date with all of the latest developments in counselling.

It is the responsibility of every construction company to ensure that their workers are happy and healthy. Motivated workers help to create an environment that is not only productive, but safe and supportive.

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