In this video, Andy Desmond (Senior Vice President, Construction Industry Leader, and Head of UK Business Development at Marsh) and Dr Wolfgang Seidl (Partner and Workplace Health Consulting Leader for Mercer in UK and Europe) discuss some of the most pressing mental health issues in construction and explore the unique challenges that the industry faces in precipitating a much-needed cultural shift and protecting its workforce’s well-being. They then suggest possible short- and long-term solutions that employers can implement to better support their employees in trying times.
- Suicide rates within the construction industry appear to be much higher than those of many other industries – why? The industry is historically male dominated, and males in construction are three times more likely than average to commit suicide. Women are often better at spotting early warning signs and seeking help at an earlier stage.
- In Construction News’ Mind Matters 2019 survey, three out of four workers said long hours make the biggest difference to well-being, followed by job uncertainty, tight deadlines, financial pressures, and working away from home.
- Employers can provide better support networks by initiating 24/7 support lines and Employee Assistance Programs as well as being creative in reaching out to staff, such as by stitching helpline numbers into gloves and personal protective equipment so they are readily available.
- It is vital to break down barriers to discussing and seeking help for issues related to mental health and well-being – workers in the construction industry are increasingly reporting work-related stress, depression, and anxiety. This is a global health issue where emotional and physical well-being are interconnected.
- Exercise is especially important in construction: On-site warm-ups can help prevent lifting injuries and moreover support mental well-being. Employers should encourage employees to pick up healthy habits to improve their physical and mental wellness.
- Employers have a duty of care to their employees. They can be held liable for suicides and consequently suffer financial and reputational damage if their actions are found to have compounded workers’ emotional issues. Managers need to be able to identify when an employee needs mental support and point them in the right direction for help.