Support in mind
Where to get help if you’re struggling with your mental health
The past few years have been particularly challenging for us all, but the construction sector in particular still faces an unwelcome problem with mental health and suicide.
Male construction workers are three times more likely to take their own lives compared to other sectors, according to a 2017 report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Suicide in Scotland is also three times more common in men than women, according to a report from Samaritans Scotland released last year based on 2021 ONS statistics, with people living in the country’s most deprived areas being more than three times more likely to take their own life too.
The reasons for suicide are many and complex, with financial pressures, heavy workloads, unrealistic deadlines and poor communication all contributing to high levels of stress at work, combined with rising bills at home.
Adding to these factors is the macho culture in construction, which is a real issue when more than 87% of today’s workforce is still male.
With men, there’s still a stigma attached to talking about feelings and mental health problems, with the fear of being seen as weak, but it’s vital to talk to someone about how you’re feeling because bottling things up only makes them worse.
However, there IS a wealth of advice and support out there, with experienced and sympathetic professionals who can provide welcome light when things seem darkest.
Where to turn for help
The Electrical Industries Charity is a great place to start. As the dedicated charity for the electrical industry, it offers a helpline on 0800 652 1618 which can support you between the hours of 8am-8pm Monday to Friday, and 8am-1pm on Saturdays. In addition, it can help with issues such as financial support, counselling, psychiatric assessments, private rehab and legal support. Find out more at www.electricalcharity.org
Samaritans offers a listening service and emotional support to anyone about any issue, with a special focus on suicidal feelings. They’re open all day, every day, so you can call the helpline for free on 116 123, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.samaritans.org for more information.
Papyrus is a confidential support and advice service for those under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide. The helpline number is 0800 068 4141 and you can also text 07786 209 697, email email@example.com or go to www.papyrus-uk.org
Maytree is an organisation that offers telephone support to over 18s in suicidal crisis. You can contact them 24/7 on 020 7263 7070 and leave a message if there is no one to answer your call. For more information go to www.maytree.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
My Black Dog is a charity run by volunteers who all have personal experience of dealing with suicide, self-harm, depression and mental illness. You can chat online to a volunteer Monday-Friday at 5-10pm, Saturday at 10am-3pm and on Sunday at 10am-3pm and 7-10pm by going to their website at www.myblackdog.co
If you’d rather not speak on the phone, you can contact SHOUT via text on 85258 with the word ‘SHOUT’.
CALM offers help, information and advice on issues such as abuse, bullying, mental health, relationships, suicide and self-harm. The CALM helpline is open every day from 5pm-12am (midnight) on 0800 58 58 58. You can webchat with them via their website, and find out more about them at thecalmzone.net
Hub of Hope is a directory of local mental health services in the UK. They have a range of factsheets and information about different mental health diagnoses and lists of specific support services for each condition. You can visit their website at www.hubofhope.co.uk
Dads Matter UK is a free service that provides support for dads worried about or suffering from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. They have a directory of counselling and support services as well as self-assessment tools to find the most suitable support for you. Find out more at www.dadsmatteruk.org
Businesses have a part to play too
As well as having an impact on a worker’s physical and mental health, high-stress levels over a long period of time can have a detrimental impact on productivity, so it makes sense for employers to keep an eye on staff and ensure they’re OK.
An increasing number of businesses are adopting mental health policies, with 53% of SMEs seeing an improvement in provision of worker wellbeing and mental health support since COVID-19 restrictions eased, according to a Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) survey in 2022.
Organised national days like Time to Talk are often an excellent opportunity for businesses to evaluate where the culture is at with openness while promoting the idea of talking to colleagues within the wider workforce. Find out more about the event at www.timetotalkday.co.uk
Taking part in initiatives like Movember can also help raise awareness of men’s physical and mental health issues – find out more at uk.movember.com about how you can get involved.
Companies should also start to look at ways to embed company policies for mental health into their everyday working life.
Although this can be difficult when deadlines and profit loom large, implementing wellbeing targets into your projects will ensure the mental health of your workforce is not left behind.
Support through times of loss
Sudden loss is one of life’s biggest shocks and has a huge impact on wellbeing, with families and friends left to deal with grief and distress.
The Electrical Industries Charity (EIC) has launched the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to help those struggling to deal with such challenges.
This support network ensures that employees and their immediate family have a shoulder to lean on by offering vital support including bereavement counselling, legal advice, financial assistance and grants. The
EAP service is available to anyone who currently works, or has worked, in:
Electrical contracting and facilities management
Electrical and electronic manufacturing, wholesale, distribution and retail
Electrical and mechanical engineering
The lighting industry
Generation, distribution, and supply of electrical power, including nuclear and renewable energy.
To find out more, or if you need support, email email@example.com or call 0800 652 1618.
Finding light in the darkness
SELECT Associate Member simPRO has joined forces with the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity – AKA the Lighthouse Club – to support workers’ welfare and wellbeing in the construction industry.
The software provider will now champion the Lighthouse Club at various industry events, promoting the charity internally through a day of fundraising and sponsoring various charity campaigns.
These include their ‘Make it Visible’ tours across the UK and Ireland, which are designed to provide information to frontline workers about crucial support services provided by the charity.
The Lighthouse Club operates a free and confidential helpline for the construction industry – you can call it any day on 0345 605 1956 and to find out more, visit www.lighthouseclub.org
Handy guide to where to get help
Members can download a free brochure that provides details of leading charities and support networks that offer help and guidance for mental health issues.
Compiled by the Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV), of which SELECT is a leading member, the open source document can be found at www.cicvforum.co.uk/downloads
If you require further printed copies for your own business or employees, please contact SELECT on 0131 445 557 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Week-long focus on easing anxiety
Focusing on anxiety, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 15-21 May.
The initiative will aim to increase people’s awareness and understanding of the issue and provide information on how to prevent it becoming a problem. Find out more and get involved at www.mentalhealth.org.uk
In addition, September is National Suicide Prevention Month, with 10 September being World Suicide Prevention Day. Find out more at www.samaritans.org
About the author
Employment & Skills Adviser