Mental Health in the Construction Sector, by Gregor Craig, President & CEO, Skanska UK
Safer Highways shares the account of Gregor Craig, President & CEO, Skanska UK
Following a visit the Construction Minister made to Skanska headquarters, I was invited to present to the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) on the issue of mental health in the construction sector.
In our society, we are broadly aware of how life pressures can affect our mental health and wellbeing. However, when we put the construction sector under the microscope, there is a stark and concerning picture.
*1 in 6 people who work in construction have been diagnosed with common mental health conditions, while three times as many construction workers are more likely to commit suicide than in other professions. Furthermore, 89% of individuals will not disclose to their employer that they are struggling with mental illness for fear of being looked at unfavourably.
But what are the triggers that make these statistics so concerning?
There are several factors, specific to our industry, which have significantly exacerbated issues around mental health, such as:
Frequent working away from home for long periods, away from family and friends i.e. those that you usually rely on to listen when you have problems. The novelty of working away from home quickly disappears and can lead to loneliness and depression. Being away from your registered GP is also a practical issue which can cause “reasons” not to book an appointment.
At present, the industry is heavily male-dominated but men are much less likely to speak about personal issues and also less likely to visit a doctor. In construction, we do still have a long way to go before if feels safe to declare that you are struggling with a few issues if your colleagues are all men.
Removal of the ‘grandfather clause’ from the CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card, means members will now need to consider (worry about?) having to achieve qualifications for certain jobs in our sector.