Continuing to raise awareness of mental health within the construction industry.
Here at FMB Insurance, we are proud to have Mental Health First Aider's (MHFA) and MHFA instructors in training within the team. The last few years has seen the issue of mental health raised heavily within the media. However, despite this awareness, and according to the Office for National Statistics, there seems to have been a significant increase in male suicide rates across England in general from 2017 to 2018.
There are more suicides in the construction industry than any other profession. Over 1,400 construction workers took their own life between 2011 and 2015 and around 454 workers in 2016 alone. On average, 2 construction workers die as a result of suicide every working day. It’s extremely important that we don’t lose sight of this and continue to raise awareness.
There are many factors that contribute to this higher rate within the building industry. Many workers are away from their families all week and are therefore alone at night. Many of those travel long distance or perhaps don’t know when their job may end, which leads to uncertainty. Some individuals also work longer hours than they are paid for. Late payment and sometimes non-payment can also lead to weekly problems for many families. Some positions such as crane operators for example can mean long periods of isolation, on their own with no phone and only their own thoughts. Low skilled male construction workers are almost four times more likely to take their own lives than the national average, with the number of suicides in construction now six times higher than the number of falls from height. The finishing trades such as plumbers, plasterers and electricians are also at risk due to long periods working alone and tight deadlines. In general, it’s a high-pressure environment.
- The fact the industry is very much male dominated also plays a part. It seems that men are less keen to seek help. Perhaps it’s the fear of the stigma attached and that they have to put on a ‘tough guy’ front to those around them.
It’s extremely important that we all look out for each other and that individuals feel they can turn to someone if needed. As an employer, make it clear that your site is a place where workers feel they can talk to someone. Encourage all staff to take lunch with a friend and co-worker. Make sure someone can check in on those alone at night. Lose the mobile phone for a time and just chat to those around you. Introduce Mental Health First Aiders to sites and train staff in awareness.
The Lighthouse Club is a charity that provides financial and emotional support to the construction community and their families. If you need a helping hand or feel like a chat then call the helpline on 0345 605 1956 or visit www.lighthouseclub.org.