July is Talk to Us month and the Lighthouse Construction industry Charity is raising awareness of the importance of talking about wellbeing issues with friends, colleagues and professionals to prevent situations from spiralling to crisis point.
Working in construction can be extremely rewarding but has its challenges. Over 87% of the workforce are male which means they are less likely to talk about and share their problems. In addition to this, long hours, tight deadlines and lack of job security can contribute significantly to poor mental health. Many contracts mean working away from home without the normal support network of family and friends, so trying to keep everyone happy including family, their boss, the main contractor and the client, can simply be too much.
Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while and just being listened to can help you feel supported. You never know who might be struggling so don’t forget to check up on your friends, family and colleagues to see how they are coping.
Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction industry Charity said: “Last month, we saw a record 300 calls to our 24/7 construction industry helpline, but the positive message is that people are feeling more able to reach out and talk to someone. No problem is too large or too small and if they’re not comfortable with talking on the phone, they can use our text support service to chat. They can even visit one of our Lighthouse Beacons to meet and talk face to face in a safe environment.
Talking can make us feel vulnerable, but it shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness. We know that all the work we are doing, together with efforts of the industry is helping to reduce the stigma of talking about feelings and problems.”
One such initiative is the charity’s partnership with National Grid at its interconnector site in Kent. A wellbeing facility encourages a positive wellbeing environment where people can share their issues and signposts workers to information on how to reach out for support.
Nicola Medalova, Managing Director of interconnectors for National Grid said: “We need to ensure that wellbeing initiatives are reaching the most vulnerable and more needs to be done to improve support and services offered within the sector. That is why we have partnered with mental health professionals from the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity to provide support to all of our workers and provide easy access to a huge range of wellbeing support. As well as this, there are lots of informal ways to connect with workers and build relationships, particularly for those who feel intimidated by professional help. Sometimes just talking to a friend or colleague can help”.
The Construction News ‘Mind Matters’ survey published last week identified a significant shift in construction’s mental health journey due to a change in attitudes about talking openly. 53 per cent of survey respondents said that they felt comfortable talking about their mental health with colleagues, compared with 33 per cent in 2019.
Colin Marrs, Editor of Construction News said: “These findings are positive and many companies have their own initiatives to help their employees start a conversation about whatever is troubling them. The industry has a collective moral responsibility to ensure that construction is a safe and healthy place to work, both mentally and physically. There is still much work to be done and we cannot take our eye off the ball, but it is encouraging to see this positive shift in attitudes”.
The charity’s current campaign, ‘Help Inside the Hard Hat’ aims to raise awareness of all the support available to both companies and individuals and highlights the importance of reaching out.
The ‘Help Inside the Hard Hat’ campaign is also visiting construction sites and builders’ trade outlets across the country to meet and talk to the trades and raise awareness of the support available to them. The team are all fully trained mental health first aiders with first hand life experiences in construction, so are able to identify and relate easily with the issues being raised.
If you or anyone you know is struggling, you can reach out for 25/7 free and confidential support via;
24/7 Construction Industry Helplines; 0345 605 1956, (UK) 1800 939 122 (ROI)
Text HARDHAT to 85258 (UK) 50808 (ROI)
Via their website