21% of construction employees have experienced bullying in the last year with almost 3 in 10 saying the bullying was just labelled as ‘banter’. Industry workers have reported high levels of stress, anxiety and depression as a result.
Poor mental health in the construction industry has reached an all-time high, with over half of UK construction workers reporting mental health issues in the last year. According to the findings from a nationwide survey, 1 in 5 construction workers have been impacted by bullying alone in the last year.
The Mental Health in the Construction Industry survey, found that only 7% of workers raised feelings of poor mental health with their HR team. Shockingly, when issues were raised, only 6% said they had sufficient mental health support.
The data was collected by London plant hire specialists Herts Tools, who surveyed employees from 88 construction companies in the UK, to highlight the impacts of poor mental health in the industry.
With the construction and trades industries traditionally leaning towards ‘manning up’ or ‘cracking on’ as solutions to mental health issues, the findings suggest this attitude is still very much present.
50% of workers between the ages 21-24 were found to be the worst affected by bullying labelled as ‘banter’.
Workers surveyed also noted that the industry could improve its approach to confidentiality, with 56% of bullied employees wanting more privacy on issues raised. Even those who hadn’t personally been subject to bullying felt more could be done to improve confidentiality around sensitive, personal issues (36%).
Stefano Lobban, Director at Herts Tools, said: “The UK construction industry is still experiencing a mental health crisis: workers continue to demonstrate a ‘suck it up and deal with it’ approach to poor mental health.
“The findings from our survey highlight that workplaces could be doing more. They could encourage workers suffering to come forward and share their experiences of poor mental health issues and/or bullying by having more confidentiality measures in place. Companies could look at investing in workplace surveys, private spaces and more wellbeing measures, to give workers the opportunity to share any personal issues in a safe and supportive environment.
“We just hope that companies take these new figures as a warning and address their own workplace culture so that these difficult and sensitive issues can be discussed.”
Kasia Richter, Founder at Wellbeing Strategist, said: “Harmless joking is when it is enjoyed by both parties. Banter can be a way of creating bonds by sharing experiences and exchanging thoughts and feelings in a way that is mutually accepted. Bullying starts when boundaries of respect are crossed and certain behaviour is harmful, causing negative feelings such as emotional pain, sorrow, guilt or shame.”
Where can construction workers seek professional support?
Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity
The charity has been delivering charitable welfare and support to the construction community since 1956. The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity is funded by the industry, for the industry.
Mates in Mind
Mates in Mind is a leading UK charity raising awareness and addressing the stigma of poor mental health. We promote and lead on the development of positive mental wellbeing within the workplace. Mates in Mind works across industries, focusing on construction, as well as related sectors, including transport, logistics, manufacturing, and others.
This article was first published in the ScaffMag Magazine Issue 15