Mental health on site and in the workplace
11th May 2017
It's Mental Health Awareness Week and new research shows that most people experience something that could be described as a mental health problem at some time in their lives.
Work is a big part of most adults' lives – we spend a lot our time there - and a workplace environment that supports good mental health is vital.
We know that when our working life supports our ability to thrive, the identity, income and purpose that it brings can be good for our mental health. We also know that challenging working conditions can be toxic to our mental health and we may lose the mental health benefits work can bring. It's great to see the strides that are being taken to support workers, colleagues and employees with mental health issues, but there is still more work to be done.
The working environments of many of our customers can be harsh, isolated or dangerous. For this reason it's vital that access to mental health services is improving. If you want to speak to some one then there are lots of places that can help you. A good place to start is on the Mental Health Foundation website.
Mental Health in Construction
It's taken far too long for the construction industry to start talking seriously about it, but mental health is finally getting some attention. Reports that 1 in 4 people in the industry have considered suicide have led to calls for urgent action on the issue. On top of that devastating figure, a further 1 in 7 admits to knowing a colleague who has actually taken their own life. These are frightening, heartbreaking numbers, and at last people are starting to take notice and action.
We've talked about this before, of course. Construction work is taxing in so many ways, but so few people suffering from manageable conditions like anxiety and depression are speaking up. Suicides in construction outnumber fatal accidents 10 to 1, but asking for help seems to be so hard for people going through difficult times. Hardly anyone is going to their employers for support – and we're talking about an industry with over twice the national average number of mental health issue sufferers.
The fact that all of this is being talked about now is encouraging. Industry journal Construction News has committed to making mental health one of its main topics for 2017, and voices throughout the industry are speaking up. Dangerous, damaging attitudes that have kept mental health issues under the table for so long are being challenged, and that's good news. We're talking about a long-term change in attitudes, though. Making mental health easier to talk about in general will take time, and there are so many people who need help right now.
One of the charities RIFT partners with is The Lighthouse Club. The Lighthouse Club was set up in 1956 to help struggling construction workers. They understand that physical injuries aren't the only dangers the industry poses, and they're doing something concrete about it. With stress, depression and anxiety causing 20% of all work-related illness, they're determined to tackle those issues through financial, legal and emotional support. RIFT was founded on the idea of helping construction workers. That's why we're honoured to have worked in partnership with the charity for many years.
The Lighthouse Club is one of several charities and organisations offering helplines for people suffering from stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. What's more, they bring a unique understanding of the challenges facing construction workers to the table. Their Construction Industry Helpline is designed for, and funded by, people and businesses in the industry to help them take care of each other. They can offer specialised, practical support and advice on everything from occupational health and wellbeing to financial aid options.
It's time for construction workers to stop suffering in silence and, just as importantly, to stop allowing friends and colleagues to do so too. Campaigns like Mates In Mind are already providing training in how to spot the signs of people around you struggling. The Lighthouse Club's Construction Industry Helpline is another crucial step toward solving the industry's mental health problems. Moreover, it's an absolutely essential lifeline for thousands of construction workers who don't feel they have anywhere else to turn.
Construction Industry Mental Health Helpline: 0345 605 1956
Mental Health for Armed Forces
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, forces charity Combat Stress is hosted an event called "The Military Mind".
Experts from the Department of Health (DoH), the Ministry of Defence and the corporate sector joined with clinical specialists from Combat Stress to explain the opportunities and challenges for businesses with employees who have served in the Armed Forces on the 9th of May this year.
It's a forum for bosses and mental health professionals to discuss best practice in supporting veterans and reservists at work and focussed on explaining how and why some ex-service personnel and reservists develop mental health issues, and what their employers can do to help support them at work.
The charity believes there's increasing understanding and awareness of mental health issues in the military and wider public, but that more is needed in the workplace.
Combat Stress has over 6,000 veterans registered with them for support and provides a vital lifeline for these veterans, and their families. Their treatment and support services are always free of charge for veterans. They are Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered and the NHS England PTSD specialist treatment provider for veterans.
If you need help, please call their free 24-hour Helpline for veterans and service personnel, and their families on 0800 138 1619.