The last few years have seen a huge leap forward in terms of mental health awareness, and the stigma surrounding this issue has definitely been retreating, but one sector where people continue to struggle is construction. In the UK, 1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues at some point in their life, and in the construction industry, employees were 3 times more likely to commit suicide than those working in director roles, and 10 times more likely than those working in health and social care.
Suicide is the biggest killer of men in the UK, and this seems to be down to the stigma surrounding not just mental health issues, but opening up about how they feel. The pressure to be ‘macho’ is one ingrained in our society, but in the male-dominated construction industry, it is a particularly heavy load to bear. Add that to punishing schedules, unstable employment arrangements, distance from families and reasonably low average wages, and you’re left with a number of risk factors that can result in mental health issues. Although awareness is increasing, a large number of people still don’t equate a mental health issue with a physical one, so getting time off work for depression, anxiety etc. can be difficult, and these problems can be embarrassing to admit to.
This week in particular highlights the importance of asking for help in a time where suicide is still the biggest killer of men in the UK.
Take the first step. Let’s talk about mental health.