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In your words: Construction workers share mental health experiences

The launch of CN’s Mind Matters campaign has prompted a huge response from across the industry. Here we take a look at what you’ve been sharing.

“Generally being stressed out in construction is considered to be the norm. There is a perception that if you are not stressed you are not busy enough.”

“Any mistake, no matter how small, seems so incredibly big. The feeling keeps getting deeper and the problem keeps seeming bigger”

“Stress at work can affect people’s relationships at home. It’s important to have perspective and balance.”

“I experienced stress and anxiety during a family bereavement. I received understanding and support from my manager and found work a positive environment during this time. I would not have been comfortable with this information being shared outside my team or the company, as I believe this level of understanding is not yet typical.”

“I experience anxiety quite regularly and feel this is not something I can really talk about, as my anxiety is not serious but does make it a little harder for me to carry out certain tasks like site visits or just going up and talking to people. I would prefer it if I could talk to my line manager about this without the worry that they would think I wasn’t able to do my job properly.”

“I am very happy in my current role; however, I continue to suffer with depression and anxiety in my personal life. If I ever feel down at work currently I do my best to hide this and tend to stay quiet.”

“Any mistake I make, no matter how small, seems so incredibly big and it’s very difficult to get past it. I go home feeling depressed, can’t sleep and think about it for days afterwards. The feeling keeps getting deeper and the problem keeps seeming bigger.”

“In our industry we work long, draining days. It takes a long time to switch off and even when you’re asleep your head is still racing. This is not healthy”

“I have psyhosis/schiitophrenia but am medicated now so it’s generally under control, but I have had to try to hide my illness.”

“I experienced work-related stress due to workload and took some time off. My line manager could see the signs of stress and we came up with a plan to recruit an assistant to help. My workload is monitored and I know I can discuss stress with my manager at any time.”

“People at all levels are under stress and it’s increasing because there are more demands on people to get things done. In our industry we work long, draining days with less and less competent resources to help. Then most of us have our second life to contend with – family, kids, wife, partners. It takes a long time to switch off and even when you’re asleep your head is still racing. This is not healthy.”

GET SUPPORT If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues covered in this campaign, call the Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and ROI); contact the Construction Industry Helpline on 0345 605 1956, or visit the NHS site for guidance on accessing mental health services

“I have worked with several people who have suffered mental health issues as a result of stress and other factors either at home or the workplace. In one case a man committed suicide.”

“I was working away from home and it led to difficulties in my marriage. I contacted my company’s third-party Employee Assistance Programme and discussed my issues with a counsellor.”

“The industry works on small margins and the pressure to find work that makes money causes a lot of stress. Where projects are not making money the pressure on those involved is very high. Self-employment can also be an issue, with loneliness when out of work not sufficiently recognised.”

“I have had an ex-colleague commit suicide and his employer knew for some time he had mental health issues, but treated him as if he was being silly. His line manager was aware of the issue but chose to sweep it under the carpet.”

“Working in a male-dominated industry, mental health is treated as a weakness and suffers from the macho image.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • The construction industry has a macho culture and this often manifests itself in bullying. Stress is the inevitable result.
    Margins are tight and risks are high so this puts everyone under pressure and, again, stress results.
    In my own company there is a programme of change but that is not being well managed - employees are confused about priorities and are often asked to do their "day job" and contribute to other projects, eg bids and tenders. More stress. And when deadlines are missed or quality suffers there is a blame culture. More stress.

    There is no one cause of stress in the industry but it is seen as a sign of weakness. I see no evidence of it being taken seriously, and yet it is not only a serious Health and Safety issue in its own right, it is also a potential contributor to physical health and safety issues including serious accidents.

    Margins need to improve to enable companies to recruit more staff - they cant keep delivering safely and healthily with people that are working long hours doing more than one role, being bullied and under pressure.

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  • Some very interesting comments, all of which I can relate to.
    More needs to be done about it, not just for those on salary but hourly paid workers and contractors too. They carry on working fearing no money coming in will make things worse, in most cases it does!
    Agency workers taking time off work for stress will just be replaced or laid off. Fact!
    What chance of they got??

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