Around three quarters of suicides in the UK are men. And, with a workforce made up of mostly men, this figure is shocking.
Men in the construction industry are experiencing and living through depression each and every day. In fact, with all the pressures on site, working in the industry can have a really negative impact on a worker’s mental health. Working away from home, the long stressful hours and the danger involved in construction, it’s a lot.
In fact, there’s a whopping two suicides in the construction industry every single day!
An alarming statistic, the truth is that a lot more needs to be done about mental health. Not just within the industry, but as a whole too.
There is often the stigma that men need to be strong, unaffected by their emotions. But, this is not the case. And, this perception needs to change. The fact that two construction workers are committing suicide every day is completely unacceptable. Working in an environment that could be seen as full of tough, strong men, there’s the possibility that some workers struggle to speak out because of this. Feeling like they’re forced to hide their problems and ‘just get on with it’, it’s time that we readdressed this.
One respondent from a Construction News’ survey described: “It starts off small.”
“You start feeling a bit sorry for yourself – and that seems to go on for weeks.”
“You then begin to isolate from your colleagues because you want to be alone.”
“Then, you start looking for an excuse not to come in.”
“I was looking to injure myself.”
“It was at that point that my wife made me seek proper medical help.”
“I was one of those guys who would say, ‘There is no such thing as depression’.”
“After being diagnosed, I can tell you if it was not for the care of my wife, doctors and friends, I would not be around today.”
So what can be done to help this? Well, one thing is breaking the stigma. If someone breaks a bone, no one will tell them to “man up” and continue to work in pain. But why, when we are struggling internally, are are we made to believe that this is a sign of weakness?
According to a survey by Construction News, there is a severe lack of understanding in the industry. In fact, 83% of their respondents stated that there is not enough awareness of mental health within the industry. A further 82% added that there is also a real stigma around mental health too.
Dr Cole-King described: “We can’t underestimate the impact of stigma around suicide or mental health conditions.”
“It can almost be described as a life-limiting condition.”
“It stops people from admitting to themselves that they are struggling and stops people around them from asking if they are OK.”
“Tackling this is the first thing the industry needs to do.”
“If people don’t seek help due to stigma, lives will be lost to suicide.”
In doing this, raising awareness and opening a dialogue about mental health could go a long way to end this stigma. One way this can be done is by firms dedicating time to discuss mental health with their employees. It is so important for people to freely be able to talk about the problems that they are having. Whether this is personal or professional.
Within the survey conducted by Construction News, just 28% stated that they were happy with the support they got from their manager.
Alongside this, the knowledge of early warning signs should also not be overlooked. Here are some of the signs that you could look out for on site:
So what do you think of this? Does more need to be done in the industry to better support mental health issues? Let us know what you think in the comments below.