Latest News: Mental Health in the Construction Sector at Christmas

December 16th, 2019

Mental Health in the Construction Sector at Christmas

Although we are now well into the 21st century, the stereotypical ‘tough guy’ image is one that still predominates, both within our sector of sheet piling and within the wider construction and building industries. As we approach Christmas 2019, we are more aware than ever what this means for our workforce’s mental health.

Mental health is a huge issue within our field of work, partly because men find it so difficult to talk about their feelings and emotions in general and ‘tough guys’ probably feel less able to discuss them than most. There may be a touch of the ‘real men don’t eat quiche’ about this, but there are real barriers to break down.

Piling on the pressure

Mental health statistics relating to our industry are worrying. Between 2011 and 2015, 13.2% of in-work male suicides came from construction and building, which only comprises 7% of the UK workforce. Long hours, hard and demanding projects that necessitate being away from home and the regular issues, such as late payment or contractor liquidations, all add to the pressure. When you pile Christmas stress on top of this, whether that comes from being with family over the festive period, or being alone, or perhaps tackling debts from Christmas spending, it can become unbearable.

Ways forward

All employers have a legal responsibility to help their workers, but here at Sheet Piling UK Ltd, we wish to go beyond what is required. We want to sustain a culture in which our workers feel they can discuss their mental health, at a time at which they feel ready to do so. We realise that, at every level of the company, we need mental health first aiders, encouraging workmates to seek support and offering reassurance that it is good to talk about issues.

This is crucial, as four in five British workers will not discuss mental health with their boss, for fear of being judged incapable (Source: IOSH & Management Today survey). We must empower people throughout our business, who can reassure and maintain confidentiality, if asked to do so, as well as offering honest advice on where they feel the individual can best access help, or find a way forward.

Sheet Piling UK’s Mental Health Programme

To tackle all of the key areas, Sheet Piling UK is in the process of developing a Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan, in line with industry standards and those promoted by the Lighthouse Club. This will help to address any mental health and wellbeing issues within
our company.

Adopting and implementing the Lighthouse Club ‘Building Mental Health’ five-step framework, will ensure that we at Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd has a robust mental health
and wellbeing strategy.

The five steps are:

  1. Signing the Building Mental Health Charter to confirm our commitment
    to our colleagues
  2. Delivering a ‘Tool Box Talk’ about mental health and wellbeing in our workplaces and on our sites
  3. Offering selected Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd employees who manage people, the opportunity to complete Mental Health First Aid Training
  4. Ensuring we have enough Mental Health First Aiders trained for our workplaces and sites

So, as Christmas approaches, we are here to listen and support and looking forward to a 2020 in which anyone within our organisation can have the conversation that could set them on a road towards better mental health. If you are reading this article, but do not work for us, we would urge you to try to talk to a colleague or manager or call one of the helplines at which you will find support, such as the Samaritans or the Construction Industry Helpline 0345 605 1956. Hopefully, you will find that the issues that are troubling you are not insurmountable, when you have the support of others.

- Ends -

Sheet Piling (UK) Limited is one of the UK's leading piling contractors. Owning and operating a comprehensive range of specialist piling equipment Sheet Piling (UK) Ltd also carry extensive stocks of new and used piles enabling rapid reaction to any urgent requirements or emergency situations.