Let’s Talk: Stress in the Construction Industry

Stress in the workplace can affect anyone but latest statistics offer a sobering insight into mental health and the construction industry. Close to 7 in 10 construction workers report suffering from workplace stress and over 200 construction lives are lost each year due to suicide.

Long hours, physically demanding workloads, repeated high-risk tasks and tight margins have all been cited as stress triggers in the construction industry. If left unattended, excess stress can lead to poor mental health and contribute to conditions such as anxiety and depression.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing stress in the workplace, it is important that you open up channels of communication as early as possible. Read below as NWSA outline the help and support available or you can contact our learner support direct on 0161 4424344. We’re here to listen.

Stress in the workplace  – How your employer can help

Employers have a legal duty to conduct regular risk assessments and must take reasonable steps to mitigate stress in the workplace. This could range from ensuring that you have regular rest breaks to having policies in place to identify instances of harassment and bullying.

Some employers may also have line managers who have been trained to identify the signs of stress and may be able to refer employees suffering from stress onto counselling or treatment programmes. Look out for the “M” badge on hard hats whilst on site as this signifies that the wearer is a mental health first aider or has received some form of mental health training. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) recently committed £500,000 towards creating 2,500 mental health first aiders in construction by 2020.

Whilst it can be difficult to talk to your employer about mental health issues that your are experiencing, it is important to remember that your employer is ultimately there to protect you and must make adjustments for workers with disabilities or health conditions, including mental health issues. Adjustments could take the from of changing your duties or reducing your hours; this will all be discussed and agreed with you.

If you do not feel confident to talk to your employer face to face, try emailing or writing your concerns down or even speak with a fellow colleague. The most important thing is that you take that first step towards tackling stress in the workplace.

Self help tips to be mentally healthy in and out of work

It is equally important that you take steps to look after yourself.

One of the first steps towards mental well-being is to recognise the signs of stress and how they affect you. Are you sleeping well? Have you become withdrawn, constantly late for work? Have you been drinking more? If you are suffering from any of these signs, try some of the following self-help techniques:

    • Nurture outside interests – make sure work is not the be all and end all. Connect with friends and make time for exercise.
    • Eat right and sleep right – a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to combat stress.
    • Avoid unhealthy habits – cut down on alcohol, smoking and caffeine.
    • Help others – volunteering can help to give you a different perspective as well as giving you the opportunity to socialise with others.
  • Know when to seek help – a doctor can help you work through and identify causes of stress as well as possible treatment options.  

More “stress busters” can be found on the NHS website by clicking here.

How North West Skills Academy can help

North West Skills Academy go beyond providing great quality training and assessment – we are committed to helping change the face of mental health in the construction industry. All of our learners have access to a safe learning environment and specialist support resources both in and out of hours.

Tony Bewley is our dedicated learner support officer and a mental health first aider – he is available to speak with regarding any health issues in and out of the workplace. You can connect with Tony here or by calling 0161 4424344 (option 2). You are never alone at NWSA; our only aim is to help you progress and succeed.

Other sources of help

Listed below are national organisations who are there to support construction workers suffering from mental health issues. It’s never too early to start the conversation and get talking.

Mates In Mind:

The Construction Industry Helpline: