How to improve the mental health of construction employees

There are lots of perks to working in the construction sector but it’s also an industry that can come with a lot of pressure to perform and some long hours and challenging tasks. Work-related stress and mental health issues can be common, affecting a large number of people at all levels, from workers to management and contractors. However, in recent years there has been much more recognition of how important positive mental health is in construction, not just in terms of employee experience but productivity and culture too. These are some of the simplest ways to start improving the mental health of construction employees.

  1. Build a culture around positive mental health. Too many business cultures have focused only on results in recent decades and there has been a gap where emotional experience is concerned. Today, the consequences of poor mental health in the workplace are under much more of a spotlight and this is creating many more opportunities to make positive change. Make sure your culture is underpinned by healthy standards, a more emotionally intelligent approach, clear policies on mental health at work and visible commitments, such as signing the Building Mental Health Charter.
  2. Focusing on getting line managers and supervisors on board. Part of developing a more positive mental health culture is ensuring that those who have positions of influence and authority within the business are displaying a commitment to this in everything they do. In particular, it’s vital to ensure that people in authority know what to do if someone brings a mental health issue up.
  3. Give staff the information that they need to get help. For example, make sure that they know about internal employee assistance programmes and what they can do if they feel like they are struggling. Vocal and consistent support for anyone with mental health struggles – as well as easy to access assistance channels – makes it much simpler for people to take action. There are also sector-wide support mechanisms, such as the Construction Industry Helpline, that you can inform employees about.
  4. Raise awareness about mental health and give people tools. Because it’s not a topic that has traditionally had a lot of airtime in construction environments, it’s important to let your employees know that talking about mental health is welcomed. So, start by creating talks about how to spot the signs of mental health problems, in themselves and others, how to support colleagues who might be going through something, as well as the best ways to open conversations and get people talking.
  5. Invest in mental health first aiders. These are people within your business who provide mental health support in times where this is necessary and who will provide a focal point for anyone who feels like they need to reach out. It’s recommended that you train up to around 100 employees or subcontractors to be able to do this.

These are just some of the steps you can take to start improving the mental health of construction employees.

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