As Mental Health Awareness Week approaches, I’d like to share my experiences on a professional and personal level.
As CITB Chief Executive, I am keenly aware of the work industry must do to improve the mental health of its workforce because let’s be blunt, the statistics are grim.
Every day two construction workers take their own life. And while work to transform construction’s culture has begun, all of us have a lot more to do.
From a personal point of view, my son, who is training to be a mental health nurse, has a severe mental health condition. I know the impact mental illness can have on an individual, their family, friends, and work, so I’ve a lot to share with you.
There are several reasons why construction has a poor record on mental health. Factors include: working away from home; heavy workloads; long working hours; late payments and job insecurity. Poor management practices and a lack of understanding can add to the problem, too. The triggers for mental illness are always unique to the individual and we must recognise this.
Construction needs to look after its workforce. When all workers can access support, without fear of stigma, lives will be saved, attracting new entrants will be easier and the skills gap will close.
Supporting mental health in construction is a CITB priority. Since 2018 CITB has supported nearly 950 employers – and awarded £1,550,396 of funding to mental health projects. Over £1.3m in grants have been paid to support mental health first aid & awareness courses and mental health champions.
Our August 2021 report Mental Health and Construction: a coordinated approach (External link – Opens in a new tab or window), outlined the scale of the mental health challenge facing industry along with solutions to improve workplace culture.
The report concluded that there is a lack of integrated mental health support across industry. Collaboration is key to tackling this issue. This is why CITB is working closely with the Construction Leadership Council (External link – Opens in a new tab or window) to coordinate industry’s response and provide improved help. The report included examples of good practice and I encourage anyone with an interest in mental health and construction to look at it.