We talk about what names celebrities call their babies, how our favourite football team performed last night and where we’re planning on going on holiday. But what we don’t chat about is mental health, wellbeing and emotional struggle…especially in the construction industry.
Did you know 2 construction workers a day take their own life? It’s a sad statistic that is equivalent to losing 730 colleagues, customers or friends to suicide each year. That could be your boss, your apprentice, or your colleague whom you’ve worked with for 20 years.
For every construction worker that we lose, a family loses a parent, grandparent, sibling, child, uncle or aunty.
Clearly something needs to be done. The construction industry needs action.
As Avonside’s Managing Director Tony Burke told Roofing Today magazine in January, we shouldn’t think of mental health and wellbeing as being ‘somebody else’s problem’.
What Can You Do?
Tony highlighted in the January issue of Roofing Today that, while no one expects everyday construction workers to be experts in how to handle conditions like anxiety, depression, bi-polar, OCD and post-traumatic stress we can:
“…all become more aware and sympathetic, and we can all ensure that the environment in which we work - where, after all, we spend most of our day - is less aggressive and adversarial and less likely to contribute to those dreadful statistics.”
He added: “We can all help on an individual level just by noticing changes in colleagues’ behaviour and being prepared to discuss observations with them; talking is always a positive first step. In a still male-dominated industry, talking about these issues can be the first, and hardest, part of getting support.”
Tony noted that positive steps have been taken towards combating mental health issues in wider society, with people and the national media being more aware, open and understanding. There has been more acknowledgement that some individuals suffer from the aforementioned mental health conditions, which is always the first important step to effectively dealing with, and hopefully preventing, the issues.
Whilst the NHS is always a good place to turn if you or someone you know is experiencing stress, anxiety or just want a friendly person to listen to you, the sector has its own supporting organisation, Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity.
Introducing Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity!
According to their website, Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity are the only charity that provides financial and emotional support to the construction community and their families who have suffered an injury, long-term condition or just need a helping hand. The organisation has been delivering chartable welfare and support to the construction workforce and their families since 1956.
The charity receives no public funding and, amongst other work, supports education and training schemes within the construction industry.
The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity have 21 volunteer-led regional ‘clubs’ located around the country. Each club organises fundraising events, for example golf days, dinner dances and summer balls which all help towards the organisation’s important cause. You can find the club nearest to you here. Alternatively, upcoming fundraising and charity events can be found here.
What makes Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity such an asset to the industry is the fact that they have a dedicated helpline providing financial, emotional, and legal support and advice anytime to any member of the construction workforce and their families in UK and Ireland need it.
In the first quarter of 2019 alone, Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity received 587 requests for help through their valuable 24/7 helpline. In 2018, the Construction Industry Helpline, which is manned by highly trained call handlers, supported 1,662 families in crisis and provided £1,486,726 in emergency financial aid.
Additionally, Lighthouse are developing their links with fellow charities such as Macmillan Cancer Research, MIND, Samaritans and Citizens Advice to make sure their call handlers can reach the people that desperately need their help.
If you or someone you know is in need of emotional, financial or legal support, don’t wait, contact the Construction Industry Helpline on 0345 605 1965 today.
To boost accessibility further, Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, construction software firm ‘COINS’ and Building Mental Health have teamed up to launch the Construction Industry Helpline app. With stress, anxiety and depression currently being responsible for a fifth of all work-related illnesses, the app couldn’t have come at a better time and complements the 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline.
The free app can be downloaded from the App Store or on Google Play.
To date, £485,605 of donations have been generously given to Lighthouse Construction Industry Club to help construction workers and their families.
What are Avonside Doing to Help combat Mental Health Issues?
Avonside have pledged organisation-wide support for Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, becoming the charity’s sponsors, advocates on social media and supporters offline. We happily donated at least £1000 each year.
As part of fundraising and awareness efforts, four members of staff, including Group SHEQ Sarah Burke, are undertaking the tough challenge of cycling 100 miles around London in August.
If you’d like to kindly donate to the team doing the Prudential Ride London challenge simply visit their JustGiving page or text: TILE91 to 70700. After all their training and preparation, we know they’d be very grateful! All proceeds go to Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity!
The Construction Industry Needs to Unite!
Around three decades ago a construction worker’s work environment was more dangerous than mining, serving in the Armed Forces or policing. This, of course, wasn’t acceptable and something had to be done. Thankfully, the construction community at the time came together and took a stand to address the unnecessary high-level of fatalities within the industry.
Why should mental health today be any different?
It’s the view of Avonside that the construction industry as a whole needs to present a united front and begin a journey of raising awareness, offering supportive workplace environments and fostering understanding to counter the mental health epidemic.
We need to shake the stereotype of the overly macho builder who isn’t allowed to be in touch with his feelings. This can be a challenge with mental health conditions often being an ‘invisible issue’ (as opposed to a physical illness). However, it’s imperative that we, as an industry, embrace professional openness, acceptance and sharing, for the sake of future construction workers. It’s okay to have a mental health condition. It’s not okay to suffer alone.
As Mental Health Awareness Week approaches (13th -19th May 2019), how could your construction company and staff help change the culture and attitudes towards mental health within your business?