Construction industry steps up focus on mental health

Tim Balcon. Image credit: Peter Devlin

CITB has marked Mental Health Awareness Week by pledging its continuing support to training and understanding.

A study compiled by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and CITB has highlighted the toll poor mental health is taking, with research showing that 26% of construction workers had experienced suicidal thoughts and 91% felt overwhelmed. Two workers from the industry take their own lives each day.

CITB has already partnered with Laing O’Rourke, the Lighthouse Club and Samaritans to train 8,000 mental health first aiders. The organisation revealed it is now set to announce further support for an initiative which will include apprentices.

Since 2018, CITB has awarded £1,550,396 of funding to mental health projects, while over £1.3 million in grants have been paid to support mental health first aid and awareness courses and mental health champions.

CITB CEO Tim Balcon said, “I am under no illusion that there are many reasons why construction has a poor record on mental health. Factors include working away from home; heavy workloads; long working hours; prejudice; late payments and job insecurity. Poor management practices and a lack of understanding can add to the problem, too.

“Construction needs to look after its workforce. When all workers can access support, without fear of stigma, lives will be saved and attracting new entrants will be easier. Our support for mental health training and initiatives will continue and will be outlined in our new Business Plan due to be launched later this month.”

Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, added, “Training mental health first aiders is a lifesaver. One person can make a huge difference simply by listening and supporting someone who feels that they have nowhere to turn to.”

The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity is sharing this story told by a Mental Health First aider with anonymity preserved for confidentiality.

Bill added, “This story had a positive ending, but sadly, for many of our construction colleagues, circumstances just like this end in tragedy. With support from CITB and the construction industry we need to take action now.

Bill Hill

“Just one small step can make all the difference and we encourage everyone to ask if someone is ok. As well as training we also provide a 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline providing a range of free and confidential support, which is complemented by a free Self Support App. Our free  text HARDHAT to 85258 service provides yet another route to support, along with our  Lighthouse Beacons who offer a safe space for people to share concerns”

CITB added that FE construction tutors will be trained to be Mental Health First Aiders so they can support construction apprentices during their learning. Apprentices will be given mental health awareness training too.