According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in the UK alone, there were over 828,000 workers suffering from work related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2019/20, which resulted in around 17.9 million working days lost.
For the construction industry in particular, the negative impact of the global pandemic has added to an already pervasive mental health challenge within the sector. As reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the suicide rate among construction workers is already three times the national average for men, equating to more than two construction workers taking their own life every day.
Mental health charity Mates in Mind is committed to changing these statistics by getting the construction and related sectors talking and taking action. April is Stress Awareness Month and this year, Mates in Mind will be asking organisations within the construction and related sectors to commit to installing long term change within their businesses to not only ensure a healthier and safer workplace environment for their employees, but also to help change the wider industry culture around workplace stress.
Just one small step, such as an annual stress risk assessment, can help organisations to identify work-related stress risks within their company and help them meet their duty of care in the identification and mitigation of work-related stress.
To support the launch of the campaign, Mates in Mind has released a short video, created in partnership with the family of Chris, a 30-year veteran of the construction industry and a loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. In 2019, Chris suffered a mental health crisis brought on by severe stress, which developed at rapid speed and had catastrophic consequences.
TRIGGER WARNING: Please note, the following video includes mention of suicide and may be upsetting to some viewers.
Throughout April’s Stress Awareness Month, Mates in Mind will be sharing Chris’s story to raise awareness and understanding of the very real impact that workplace stress can have on our lives and the importance of recognising the signs that someone might be struggling.
Michelle, Chris’s wife, comments: “Chris’s death has left us as a family with extreme heartache and unbelievable grief and we know nothing will bring Chris back; but we hope by sharing his story, we can save other families from this devastation. Chris never experienced any mental health illness previously so we can’t emphasise enough if it can happen to him it can happen to anyone.”
James Rudoni, Managing Director of Mates in Mind stated: “Chris’s story sends a clear message that only with the support and commitment of leaders in the construction industry can we address stress in the workplace, transforming the overall mental health of workforces and ensuring a meaningful change.
“We know that there needs to be more awareness and effective management of stress risks in the workplace and that enabling people to open up conversations about mental health while providing them with the awareness and education to discuss the topic, continues to be the most immediate and effective starting point for improving mental health. Together we can help develop open working environments where the stigma and silence around the topic can be eliminated- and that is exactly what we aim to do this Stress Awareness Month.”
The charity is encouraging organisations to use this month as an opportunity to open vital conversations about stress at work and to encourage an open and honest dialogue with staff. To support these conversations, the charity is providing free training and resources throughout the month.
Understanding the importance of managing and reducing workplace stress has arguably never been more important than now, in the shadow of the COVID-19 epidemic, as businesses begin to focus on returning to work and supporting their teams as they adjust to their new ways of working.
Employers are recognising that providing a mentally healthy workplaces is a necessity and not a luxury for the way we work today, because there is no health without mental health.
To join Mates in Minds month long campaign, see the website for more information or share the video ‘Chris’s story’ available across social channels.