Mental health awareness campaign launched for the construction industry


Health in Construction Leadership Group and the British Safety Council launch a new programme to raise awareness of mental health in construction

A new campaign has launched to raise awareness of mental health in the construction sector. The Mates in Mind programme was launched at the second CEO health summit of the Health in Construction Leadership Group in conjunction with the British Safety Council.

Suicide in the construction industry is not a new area of concern. Last year, mental health charity The Samaritans revealed suicide killed six times as many construction workers as falls from heights. The group called for more to be done to tackle depression and stress in the sector.

Suicide death rates higher than accidents

The rate of suicide in the industry is reported to be as much as 10 times higher than deaths caused by fatal accidents at work. Mates in Mind hopes to reach some 100,000 employers in the first year. By 2025, it aims to have briefed three quarters of the industry.

Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the British Safety Council, said: “In the UK, for every one working day lost due to injury, five days are lost due to ill-health, with nearly half of them relating to mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. The total number of working days lost each year in the UK due to mental health issues is 91m, which equates to £1,035 per employee (according to the Centre for Mental Health).

“Approximately one-sixth of the 2.1m construction workers in the UK are likely to be suffering from a mental health issue at any one point in time; a figure based on research by ONS. It’s a shocking statistic. Even more shocking is the fact that in the construction sector, people are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than from on-site accidents. Considering these alarming statistics, I struggle to understand why there’s so little focus on reducing suicide, compared to reducing accidents.

“The vision of the British Safety Council is that “no-one should be injured or made ill at work”. However, like the construction sector, historically, we’ve shouted safety and whispered health. The Health in Construction Leadership Group is determined to readdress this balance, and I’m proud to be the CEO of an organisation that isn’t just saying we agree, but is at the forefront of actually doing something about it.”

The programme will be pioneered by Balfour Beatty, Careys and Willmott Dixon. It will also be backed by mental health first aid training programmes supported by Mental Health First Aid England, Mind, and the Samaritans.

Commitment to tackle mental health

Last week, over 300 construction leaders gave their commitment to tackle the stigma associated with mental health via employer support and the sharing of information.

Speaking at the time, one of the founding members and chair of the HCLG and Group Head of Health, Safety and Security at Land Securities Clive Johnson said: “With suicide causing ten times more deaths than accidents on sites, it is imperative that the industry is truly aware of the deeply impactful consequences of unaddressed mental health issues.”

He added: “…we have set the foundations to addressing mental health openly, confidently and honestly within the construction industry; not just by ‘starting the conversation’ but by providing delegates with the skills and knowledge to go back into their workplace and address this issue head on.”


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