The Bottom Line
“Our industry works in numbers. We know that they are incredibly important: whether it’s calculating margins or keeping an eye on government expenditure on major projects.
Numbers play a vital role in how the industry operates.
But in amongst these figures, some stand out to me more than most.
We found out last year that “a total of 1,419 people working in the skilled construction and building trades took their own life from 2011-2015, this is according to the Office of National Statistics.”
That means construction workers are 63 per cent more likely to die by suicide than the national average. Shadow mental health minister Barbara Keeley said that these numbers are “disturbing”. The government has been asked to “plan action” hand in hand with the industry in order to tackle these figures.
We all have a part to play to breakdown any stigma or barrier in attitudes and we must continue every day, to encourage people to talk about mental health, openly so that this figure can reduce.
Keeping it high on the agenda
This mustn’t be a flash in the pan – there has been a lot of talk over the past 18 months about the need to destigmatise mental health in the industry. I couldn’t agree more – there are still so many stigmas surrounding mental health, the invisible illness that people have been afraid to talk about it or ask for help.
Thankfully this appears to be changing and more people now feel able to ask for help from their employers, so we must continue to keep this on the agenda.
The one thing Osborne does is continue to help create a safe space for our people to talk about any issues and for us to listen.
The bottom line is that the industry has come a long way over the past year in raising a lot of awareness around a subject that wasn’t being addressed. We must continue to challenge and improve how our industry looks at and acts upon mental health.
What Osborne are doing
Last year, Osborne signed an employer pledge with Time to Change, the growing social movement run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness which supports people to open up to mental health problems.
By signing, Osborne is committing to change the way we all think and act about mental health in the workplace.
The BBC’s recent article called “UK suicide rate shows largest drop for 20 years”, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, the mental health charity, said: “It is encouraging to see that the number of suicides appears to be falling. Not all suicides are mental-health related but the majority are and we know from previous research that there has been particular progress when it comes to people in touch with mental health services.
“We need to ensure that these are the beginnings of much longer-term trends – we lose almost 6,000 lives a year to suicide and every one is a tragedy, so despite these positive findings it is clear that we still have a long way to go.”
Jay Johnston is the Head of SHE (Safety, Health and Environment) at Osborne.