The construction industry has the highest number of suicides in the UK over any other industry, and over three times the national average. Despite this a recent survey said 60% of people in the construction industry agreed or strongly agreed that there was not enough awareness about mental health in the industry and the survey results also show that 78.3 per cent of respondents believe a stigma still exists despite the work that has been done to improve awareness and communication about the topic.
Within the construction industry there is also a strong presence of Toxic Masculinity which is perpetuated and encouraged partly because of the lack of diversity within the industry but also because of the lack of empathy, shown vulnerability and emotional intelligence. All of these create an environment that has a self-perpetuating negative consequence on the mental health and wellness of all the individuals in the industry.
As well as the shocking statistics with suicide and a huge culture-based problem there is also a need to support those with mild mental ill health challenges and understand the importance of creating a good framework and structure to support these people to help avoid their challenges developing further. There is a clear need for prevention, knowledge, understanding, support, guidance and a strategic, long term plan. The ‘cure’ model historically used really only serves as a small percentage of what is needed to overcome these issues and start creating a positive impact and changes within the industry.
Creating a Different Future, Objectives
The biggest challenge will be too de-stigmatise mental ill health throughout the industry and then to create a framework of education and support to insure all of the people involved feel supported and have a clear understanding of their own mental health and how to manage challenges in that when problems arise. Not only this, there also needs to be a culture and behavioural change throughout. To adjust people’s feelings, behaviours and actions, you must first adjust their thoughts. The objective here is to ensure a change of thinking within the industry first, followed by the change of feelings, behaviours and actions. To create these changes a detailed and strategic plan needs to be created and implemented throughout the sectors, roles and tiers to:
- Firstly, address the thinking and culture
- Create a different vision for the future
- Educate and put preventative measures into the industry
- Create a framework of support and daily behaviours that support good mental health
- Easy to access support and triage for all
- Regular checks ins
How to start the change
The change has to come from leadership level first, these are the people that lead the industry and everyone in it. They have huge influence on the people. Without their support and participation the impact that can be made at other levels will be more difficult to progress.
When looking to make changes in the way people think they need to be led, nudged, reminded and educated. It needs to be convenient, easy, understood, in proximity and a non-negotiable. To implement this throughout the construction industry is a large job but one which is more than necessary.
Each individual business will have its own leaders, challenges and systems so would have to be assessed individually taking into account the goals, budgets and need by looking at what is already happening, how that is working, where it is falling short and why the issues are still arising.
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