‘Macho Men’ in construction? They have feelings too …

Let’s Get Talking

The construction industry has vital health and safety initiatives throughout its workforce to keep men and women protected while they do their jobs. Sadly however, when it comes to the safety of their mental health, there appears to be quite a gap.

Research conducted in 2019 found that among a sample of construction workers in the UK, 70% had experienced depression, and 87% had experienced anxiety. Despite these quite overwhelming numbers, they confirmed that they did not feel comfortable opening up to colleagues or informing a site manager of their feelings, due to a surrounding stigma.

It’s becoming more acknowledged that men can struggle to talk about how they’re feeling. This can often be down to the belief that it’s not ‘masculine’, or they might be judged. With a large proportion of the construction industry made up of men, it is vital to address this issue and raise awareness of how people can help not only themselves, but those around them.

Reports reveal that some of the largest causes of mental health problems in the workplace are job insecurity, long hours, late payments, and problematic pay arrangements. The short-term nature of contracts in construction, paired with a reduction in job security as a result of Covid, further cements the importance of change.

Support Systems

The issue at hand is pressing, but there is no overnight cure for shifting long standing generalised attitudes that have been formed over centuries. In the short term, we need to create and promote confidential and approachable systems available to all people in the workforce, to protect individuals and those around them.

Building Mental Health in Construction (BMH)

BMH is a framework formed by a community of volunteers in the construction industry who are on a mission to create a freely available, industry-wide framework and charter to tackle the mental health crisis in the construction industry.

They have identified the personal nature of each individual problem, and thus have introduced a construction industry helpline app, adaptable Tool Box Talk, helpline packs, Mental Health First Aid training and many more for those struggling, to use whichever method works best. These platforms make a pivotal first step in ensuring that there are resources available that allow for the conversation to get started, whilst educating as many people as possible about where to seek help.

Mates In Mind

Mates In Mind, is a charity in the UK that launched in 2017, focused on tackling issues within a circle of influence, by educating employers on available support and guidance on mental health, mental illness and mental wellbeing, and how they can address this within their organisations.

MIM recognize that by creating a culture for free flowing conversation, and honesty about mental health, issues affecting construction workers can be worked on, rather than letting them build up, which only makes things worse.

Within the first year of launching, MIM built up a community of 185 support systems throughout the construction industry, reaching over 187,000 individuals across the sector. The goal for 2025 is to have reached 75% of the construction industry.

What can we do?

The more resources available for creating a culture for open conversations, the more it becomes easier and easier for institutions to integrate wellbeing and mental health education initiatives into the business. Whilst long term it can feel daunting tackling issues at the root, the road to change starts with the smallest action. We all know how easy it is to brush a question off with ‘I’m fine’ or ‘don’t worry about it’, but by checking in on a friend or colleague who perhaps hasn’t seemed themselves lately, it can be surprising how valuable simply opening up a channel for free communication can be. Starting small, can have a big impact in the grand scheme of things, so make sure to look after yourselves and those you care about, it only takes a text.

At Fourblue we have a wealth of experience within the construction industry, and know at the moment how tough things can be. If there are any concerns you have, we would be delighted to help and to provide further info on who best to speak to. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch at team@fourblue.com or give us a call on 01892 234999