“Men in the UK are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. However in construction – a male dominated industry– men are a further three times more likely to die by suicide..” 

“Over two thirds of professionals in the industry believe there is a stigma surrounding mental health that stops them from talking about it.”

“Almost half find it difficult to talk about their own mental health!”

The Construction industry suffers from a variety of pressures. From tight contracts, to long hours, time away from families and managing budgets, not to mention the added stresses of the pandemic and now the rising costs of supplies and materials. Additionally, within construction lies a "macho" culture which prevents many workers from seeking support and help when they may need it, putting further stress on their own mental health and wellbeing. Covid-19 hit our industry severely, which helped in part to send the suicide rate in construction from one in four to one in three. With companies closed or working remotely, where was the support our friends and colleagues needed, and how do we get back on track?

The age demographic of workers in construction still includes those from an era of maintaining a stiff upper lip, and whilst it is incredible to see a positive change in people talking and opening up about mental health in their day to day and working life, are we happy with where it is now? It is encouraging to see so many companies in the construction sector embracing the importance of their staff’s mental wellbeing in both offices and on sites. To read statistics like the above, we need to be continually asking ourselves, employers and colleagues, are we doing enough? What can we do to keep pushing the traction, keep it heading upwards and in a positive direction?

A shocking statistic, is that 56% of construction workers, work for organisations with no policies in place to support staff with mental health concerns. I do feel however, very grateful to work for a company like A S Ramsay, who strive to lead in the industry in having the policies and providing support to their staff to make sure their mental health and wellbeing are a priority.

The A S Ramsay Group actively fundraise and pledge donations to The Lighthouse Club, who are a charity devoted to supporting professionals in construction with mental health, training, communication, and financial support. Their staff have access to a helpline open 24/7, trained volunteers and NHS therapists, and financial advice should they fall on hard times. A S Ramsay’s Blue Scheme was designed to promote our staffs training, development, culture, and wellbeing.  It focusses on providing internal and external support, and regular personal development meetings to encourage our staff to speak up if they feel low.

Why should we care as, ultimately, we are all responsible for our own lives and actions.  Well, the way we treat people clearly can have both positive and negative effects on those around us. With that in mind, having uncomfortable conversations whilst being open minded without judgement, could be the one easy change we could all make that could help someone’s mental state go from suicidal, to one that reaches for support. Offering a smile, a cuppa, or taking 5 minutes from your schedule to ask: ‘How are you doing?’ to the quiet member of staff or the newbie, could make such a difference to someone, whilst costing you nothing.

Making the conscious decision to encourage your peers, employers, and colleagues to do the same can only create a better environment for us all. So get on board, be a supporter, and play your part to change the statistics at the top of this page – you may just save someone you know.

If you or anyone close to you requires help, please access the lighthouseclubs free helpline. UK 0345 605 1956. Or text HARDHAT to 85258.