More Than Ever, We Need To Look Out For Each Other

Poor mental health has been a long-running and endemic issue for the construction industry. In recent years, the sector has taken meaningful steps to address the issue through programmes such as Mates in Mind and mental health first aiders. But the job is far from finished and the impact of Covid-19 adds further pressures.

Long hours, tight project deadlines and working away from home are familiar factors that can increase stress and anxiety levels. This is a risky combination in male-dominated work environment where talking about feelings hasn’t been easy. This is where a lot of the focus for mental health programmes has been and where we have made good progress. But things are getting tougher.

Covid-19 has increased fears over income and job security, alongside worries about people’s health and that of their family and friends. Around 50% of the people in the industry are either self-employed or agency staff with many falling outside the scope of government financial assistance.

Suicides Remain at High Levels

The ONS reported that deaths from suicide in 2019 were at their highest level for two decades. Men aged between 45 and 49 are the highest risk. Over 85% of the construction workforce is male, which makes us more affected than other sectors. The impact of Covid-19 isn’t yet clear but calls to the Lighthouse Club helpline increased by 56% at the outbreak of the pandemic. Their caseload almost doubled.

For construction firms it’s vital that we redouble our efforts when it comes to supporting the wellbeing of our employees, subcontractors and partners. ‘We’re all in this together,’ is a phrase that really does apply.

Within Osborne we have a number of initiatives including the Thrive app that provides 24/7 personal support with guides, sessions and games to boost wellbeing. We also provide e-learning resources such as ‘Being My Best – Building Personal Resilience’ and modules covering mental wellness, working remotely and recognising stress in your team.

Across the organisation we’ve also trained and deployed over 100 mental health first aiders. Our aim is to ensure that we spot when people are struggling and have people on hand with the skills to make a difference. These are tough times for many people – so let’s all look out for each other.

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