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Mental health: Understand the ‘why’

Lucy Alderson

Curiosity is a fundamental part of human nature.

We are obsessed with ‘why’ – it’s a fascination that helps drive people to achieve incredible things.

It has inspired the greatest thinkers of our time to question what we think we already know. 

Asking ‘why’ is a useful tool when it is applied to ourselves and others around us, to better understand what makes us all tick.

But sometimes we’re afraid of the answers we might find.

Asking why you’re more likely to take your life if you work in construction compared with any other industry, why 57 per cent of construction workers have experienced mental health issues, and why many in this industry are suffering in silence because they are afraid of being judged if they seek help: these are fundamental questions we need to be asking ourselves.

Most importantly, we can’t afford to let a fear of the answers stop us from asking them.

Last year, Construction News revealed the results of our first mental health survey, and our research shocked the industry.

Now, as we prepare to release the results of our second survey tomorrow, it is vital that the industry processes this initial shock and moves forward.

We need to start understanding why the industry has a major mental health problem. This year, we have focused our analysis on trying to understand the answer to this question.

It is no coincidence that the number of construction workers who say they have experienced mental health issues rises to 65 per cent among those working at smaller companies that employ fewer than 100 people.

The crippling stress caused by the payment culture in this industry has been cited repeatedly in this year’s survey, as well as the stigma and lack of support workers receive from their employers.

We are only at the beginning of understanding the scale of the construction industry’s mental health challenges.

This is not to say that the sector is not doing good work in improving the wellbeing of its workforce. Progress has been made on this front, with 67 per cent of all construction workers reporting that mental health awareness had improved over the past 12 months.

But to move forward and instigate real change requires the industry to be brave and acknowledge its role in exacerbating stress and other mental health issues for its workforce.

The question is: are you prepared to take this next step?

Read the full analysis of CN’s 2018 mental health survey tomorrow

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