ADVANCE TRS SAFETY BRIEFING 2019
RAIL | WATER | PROPERTY | CONSTRUCTION SPECIALIST RECRUITERS FOR THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
FOREWORD Mental health issues are a normal part of life. In any one year approximately one in four people experience at least one diagnosable mental health issue. Having felt the full force of just how crippling mental ill health can be in my personal life, I believe we all have a personal responsibility to look after our own wellbeing as well as the mental health of those that we care for. As a recruitment business operating within the built environment our employees, contractors and client contracts are working in, statistically, some of the most challenging and stress inducing working environments. As a business we take our duty of care seriously, investing in Mental Health First Aid training, running a weekly â€˜Wellness Wednesdayâ€™ for our team to find some calm in a busy week and by running regular training for employees and managers to best support them in spotting signs of difficulty in themselves and others and ensuring they have the support they need to get help. This publication aims to share what we have learned and some of the best practices we have seen across the industry with you, our contractors. I hope, like me, that you find it informational and thought provoking and feel more confident and motivated to play your part in championing mental wellbeing in yourself and in those around you.
Andy Ridout Group Founder & Managing Director
Specialist recruiters for the built environment
WHAT’S INSIDE? MENTAL HEALTH IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY HELPLINE 10 KEYS TO HAPPIER LIVING MATES IN MIND #ADDRESSYOURSTRESS HANDLING PRESSURE MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID ENGLAND FEELING POSITIVE #EMPOWERHALFHOUR COPING WITH TRAUMA Q&A HOW IS TFL TACKLING MENTAL HEALTH MENTAL HEALTH: WHAT’S CHANGED IN 12 MONTHS? LIVING WITH MENTAL HEALTH RACHEL’S STORY TIME TO CHANGE THAMES WATER: EQUIPPING LINE MANAGERS TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH CONTACT NUMBERS
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY Male site workers in construction are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average UK male. This shocking mental health statistic is a vivid reminder of the difficulties faced by many working in the construction industry every day. Troubling data from the Office of National Statistics found that between 2011 and 2015, of the 13,232 inwork suicides recorded, those within the skilled construction and building trades made up 13.2% – despite construction accounting for little over seven per cent of the UK workforce. We speak with By Kara Price and Sarah Wales, Solicitors at
transatlantic law firm Womble Bond Dickinson about the problem and steps companies can take to help WHY CONSTRUCTION? The construction industry lifestyle is undoubtedly both challenging and stressful. Long and demanding working hours, working away from home on site for weeks at a time and the lingering unease in the industry, particularly following Carillion’s recent collapse, are just some of the factors contributing to poor mental health. In a workforce that is predominantly male, specific risks associated with male mental health also need to be considered. The “tough guy” image widespread in
the construction industry is very much to blame. Asking for help and opening up about emotions are just not things that come naturally to many of those working in the industry. The combination of these factors results in many suffering in silence. KNOW THE SIGNS Whilst poor mental health can manifest itself differently from individual to individual, the Construction Financial Management Association has set out some useful signs to look out for that can indicate poorly managed or untreated mental health conditions: •
increased lateness, absenteeism and presenteeism (showing up to work physically, but not being able to function)
decreased productivity due to distraction and cognitive slowing
lack of self-confidence
isolation from peers
agitation and increased interpersonal conflict among co-workers
increased voluntary and involuntary attrition
increased feelings of being overwhelmed
decreased problem-solving ability.
COMMERCIAL FACTORS Employers need to prioritise mental health in the workplace for commercial reasons too. Unrecognised and unsupported mental health issues can have a massive impact on a company’s revenue. According to the National Building Specification, mental health issues account for people taking almost 70 million days off sick per year – the most of any health condition – costing the UK economy between £70Bn and £100Bn a year. WHAT CAN EVERYONE DO? Established in 2016 by the Health in Construction Leadership Group with the support of the British Safety Council, Mates in Mind, aims to make sense of the options and support available to employers and individuals. As well as providing guidance for employers, it also provides useful tools for employees. But the easiest thing that we can all do is talk. If you are concerned about a colleague,
and investment as other site hazards to ensure that the workers in the industry are truly protected.
ask them if they’re ok. See if they want to go for a walk or a cup of tea at lunchtime. Generally create a safe environment so they can open up to you if they need to. Even if you don’t suspect a colleague is struggling, be careful of the language you use anyway. Insensitive words or phrases can increase the stigma surrounding mental health and make it even harder for the people around you to feel like they can talk about any issues they’re facing. CONCLUSION Physical health and safety is already taken extremely seriously in the construction industry. However, statistics suggest that the most dangerous thing on a building site is the human mind. At a time where suicide kills more people in the construction industry than falls from height, it is only right that mental health and safety is given the same level of thought, time
The industry has taken steps to reduce the stigma around mental health and to improve support but there is more that each and every one of us can do just by being aware of the signs and encouraging people to talk. Do not underestimate the impact you can make just by talking to someone. You could change someone’s life.
GET SUPPORT: Construction Industry Helpline 0345 605 1956 – managed and funded by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity Mind, the mental health charity 0300 123 3393 – provides advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem The Samaritans 116 123 – confidential 24-hour support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts Be. The Centre for Wellbeing 0191 6913500 – specialists in workplace wellbeing
CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY HELPLINE
0345 605 1956 CONFIDENTIAL 24/7 SUPPORT
ABOUT US The Construction Industry Helpline is managed and funded by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity. The charity has been delivering charitable welfare and support to the construction community since 1956. The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity is funded by the industry, for the industry. We receive no public funding and rely on the generosity and support of the industry and our volunteer network of regional clubs and fundraisers to allow us to deliver our charitable services. WHAT WE DO The Construction Industry Helpline provides a 24/7 safety net for all construction workers and their families in the UK and Ireland. It is a charitable service funded by the industry, for the industry and provides; •
Emergency financial aid
bereavement that forces a family into a state of poverty
to construction families in crisis •
Advice on occupational health and mental wellbeing
Support on legal, tax and debt management matters
Advice on occupational health and wellbeing issues as an employee or an employer
The helpline is funded by The Lighthouse Club which has been delivering charitable welfare and support to the construction community since 1956, who in turn are funded by and supported by the businesses and people in our industry and our network of 21 regional volunteer clubs.
Support and advice for sufferers of stress and addiction-related illnesses
Advice on matters ranging from divorce to employment
BENEFITS TO YOU
Advice on specific taxrelated issues concerning employment within the construction sector
Help to manage and reschedule debt
Help to understand the benefits system and your entitlement, especially if you are caring for others
Support on career changes, especially after accident or injury preventing you from returning to your original job.
Those working in the industry, as well as their families, can contact the Construction Industry Helpline and will be able to call the 24/7 confidential Construction Industry Helpline on 0345 605 1956 to access: •
Emergency financial aid in times of crisis following an illness, accident, injury or
Relating The people around you offer a valuable pool of support so it’s important to put time into strengthening those connections. Give it a go: • Meet up with someone you haven’t seen in a while • Turn off distractions to chat with friends or family about your day
Exercising Regular activity will provide an endorphin boost and increase confidence. Give it a go: • Find an activity that suits you and your schedule • Swap the car on short journeys and cycle or walk to work
Awareness Taking time to switch off autopilot and ‘be in the moment’ is a great tool to combat stress. Give it a go: • Pay attention to your senses — what can you see, hear or feel around you? • Choose a regular point in the day to reflect
Holding out a helping hand makes other people happy and will make you feel happier too.
Learning new things is stimulating and can help to lift your mood.
Give it a go: • Share your skills or offer support • Ask friends, family or colleagues how they are and listen without judgement
KEYS TO HAPPIER LIVING
Find out more about the 10 Keys to Happier Living at actionforhappiness.org
Give it a go: • Take on a new role at work or school • Try out a new hobby, club or activity that interests you
Working towards positive, realistic goals can provide motivation and structure.
People who have meaning in their lives experience less stress, anxiety and depression.
Give it a go: • Choose a goal that is meaningful to you, not what someone else expects of you • Remember to celebrate progress along the way
Give it a go: • Prioritise the activities, people and beliefs that bring you the strongest sense of purpose • Volunteer for a cause, be part of a team, notice how your actions make a difference for others
Visit mhfaengland.org to learn about Mental Health First Aid and how you can support a friend, family member, colleague or student with their mental health
Although we can’t always choose what happens to us, we can often choose our own response to what happens.
Positive emotions can build up a buffer against stress and even lead to lasting changes in the brain to help maintain wellbeing.
No one is perfect. Longing to be someone different gets in the way of making the most of our own happiness.
Give it a go: • Find an outlet such as talking to friends or writing it down • Take action to improve your resilience skills
Give it a go: • Take time to notice what you’re grateful for and focus on the good aspects of any situation • Set aside time to have fun
Give it a go: • Be kind to yourself when things go wrong • Shift the focus away from what you don’t have and can’t do, to what you have and can do
MATES IN MIND Improving and promoting positive mental health within the construction industry. Mates in Mind is a charitable programme launched in early 2017 by the Health in Construction Leadership Group, with the support of the British Safety Council. It is sector-wide programme intended to help improve and promote positive mental health across the construction industry in the UK. The aim of the programme is to provide a consistent approach within the industry, which will help improve and promote positive mental health. It will involve the delivery of an awareness and educational programme that is tailored to the needs of the industry. CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY When Mates in Mind was launched in 2017, our charity’s work was rooted in improving mental health across the construction industry. In our first year of action we partnered with organisations across the construction industry, building a community of 185 Supporter organisations, through them reaching more than 187,000 individuals across the sector.
Since then, our success in transforming the mental health cultures of workplace across the sector have gained recognition in new sectors. As a result of this, we have expanded our framework and branding to include workers and organisations who may not necessarily be hard-hat wearers in the construction industry. Whilst we will be looking to reach people across new industries, supporting and representing them through our blue ‘hard hats off’ brand, we remain committed to the industry change we aimed for within construction. Therefore, alongside the ‘hard hats off’ branding, we will continue to use our yellow ‘hard hats on’ logo – as this remains a core part of who we are. GET INVOLVED When we were founded Mates in Mind was created by and for the construction industry, since then we have expanded into new sectors. Whilst we will be looking to reach people across new industries, supporting and representing them through our blue ‘hard hats off’ brand, we remain committed to the industry change we aimed for within construction. Be a mate. Be the change.
9 out of 10 people who experience mental ill-health say they face stigma and discrimination as a result* Letâ€™s talk. If you, or someone you know needs support, please call
Be a mate Be the change www.matesinmind.org
*Good Day at Work Annual Report 2014/15
We all use unhelpful coping strategies sometimes, but as with any skill we can learn new, helpful coping strategies. Here’s some self-care tips to help protect against stress:
Learning a new skill — whether painting, playing guitar or a new language.
Sharing how you’re feeling — it’s OK to ask for help and support.
Switching off from distractions — make time for yourself ON as a regular part of your routine. Schedule a OFF reminder if you need to.
Overworking and checking your emails out of hours — we all need time to unwind. SWI TC OFF H
Spending too much of your free time in front of a screen — phone included. Don’t feel pressured to always be ‘doing’ something.
Chasing perfection — it can create unrealistic expectations. Accept that mistakes will happen.
ANXIET Bottling up your feelings Y and assuming they will go FEAR away — this can make things worse in the long run. FEAR
There are simple steps you can take to #AddressYourStress. Check out our resources at mhfaengland.org
Setting aside time to have fun or indulge yourself — positive emotions can help build a buffer against stress.
Overdoing it on sugar, caffeine or alcohol — they’re a quick fix which can increase stress in the long term.
Get moving! Physical and mental health are connected — so eat well and exercise to release endorphins. Find a fun activity that suits you and your schedule.
HANDLING PRESSURE Unfortunately stress is a common part of modern day life. Stress occurs when there is a build-up of pressure which is above the level a person can cope with. How we feel when we’re under pressure up to a point can be a good thing. It can help us rise to challenges in situations where we need to be at our best – in interviews for example, or if we have to learn and remember something. Some people love the thrill they get from the pressure that comes from doing something at high speed, like riding a roller coaster. However, if too much pressure continues long-term it can result in severe stress which can be bad for your physical and emotional health. And that’s where emotional resilience comes in – the ability to handle what life throws at you and bounce back. Common causes of stress include relationship problems, money and work worries. How your body reacts to this kind of stress can over time be harmful to your health, putting you at risk of heart attacks and strokes. Stress is a common problem.
According to a survey by the Mental Health Foundation 59 per cent of British adults feel that they are more stressed than they were five years ago.
SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
Everyone reacts to stress in different ways, so it is important to understand how you as an individual respond to stress and the signs you need to look out for. Common symptoms of stress can be broken down into the following categories:
Having emotional resilience is about having inner strength – the ability to bounce back from the stresses and challenges that life, family, work and the world throws at you.
Psychological: Constant worrying, unable to concentrate, only seeing the negative, or anxious thoughts Emotional: Mood swings, feeling irritable, unable to relax, or feeling overwhelmed Physical: Headaches, muscle pain, nausea or dizziness, diarrhoea or constipation Behavioural: Eating more or less, sleeping too much or too little, isolating yourself from others, using alcohol, smoking, or using drugs more than usual
There are a number of things you can do to help make yourself more resilient such as improving your diet, physical activity and quality of sleep. Don’t ignore your own emotional well-being. If something is making you feel stressed, talk to someone you trust. Another person’s point of view can help you deal with difficult situations. To find the cause of your stress make a note of where you were, who you were with and what you were doing when it started. Understanding the situation can help you deal with it.
National Institute of Mental Health in England (NIMHE) as part of a national approach to improving public mental health.
MHFA training courses were first developed in Australia in 2000. In the years since, it has evolved into a global movement with licensed programmes in 25 countries and counting. Over 3 million people have been trained in MHFA skills worldwide. MHFA came to England in 2007 and was launched under the Department of Health:
Our team of experienced National Trainers have trained and mentored 1,800 instructors across England who work independently to deliver MHFA England courses in their communities. We also offer in-house training and consultancy directly to organisations through our Commercial Team. By becoming an MHFA England instructor you can help to build a healthier society, whether you want to deliver courses in your spare time, as part of your own training business, or in your workplace. Visit https://mhfaengland.org/ to find out more or book your course.
FEELING POSITIVE Feeling positive, content, and having good, stable moods are all important parts of good well-being but, unfortunately, only around 14% of people in the UK report feeling really fulfilled in these areas on a regular basis. There are lots of things you can do to improve your mood, feel more positive and improve your overall sense of mental well-being. IMPROVING MOOD Everyone will have different mechanisms they use to improve mood on a day to day basis, some of which may include: Smiling – Research has shown that smiling even if you’re not feeling happy can decrease perceived levels of stress.
Good posture – Sitting up straight increases feelings of self-confidence, while slumping over has the opposite effect.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and finding ways to deal with negative feelings in the long term can be difficult. It is also important to make some more long term changes by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and using positive ways of dealing with your negative feelings. When you are feeling down it is important to steer away from negative coping mechanisms which could be harmful to yourself and others around you. For example drinking too much alcohol, misusing drugs or self-harm. Focus on the following in order to keep your mood stable to help you avoid those negative coping mechanisms: Physical activity: Regular exercise (150 minutes per week is the national recommendation) has been proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.
De-cluttering – Clutter at work can make you lose focus and curb productivity. De-cluttering may make you feel more relaxed, organised and better able to concentrate.
Healthy Eating: Have regular meals including protein to keep your energy levels stable. Also choose foods containing mood-friendly nutrients, such as whole grains, chicken, oily fish, nuts and seeds. Drinking 2-3 litres of water a day will also help regulate energy and stress hormones
Listen to Music – Several studies have found that listening to music can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and boost mood. The right music for you may have the power to change your attitude.
Spending time with family or friends can be that ‘pick me up’ that you sometimes need, it also enables you to share your thoughts with others and to gain a different perspective on any potential problems you may have.
Take 30 MINUTES to try these activities to boost your wellbeing at work!
Group games and goals can help bring people together:
Get active, a healthy body helps a healthy mind so why not:
- Scavenger hunt
- Set up a walking meeting
- Team quiz - Goal setting: what will bring you closer as a team?
SHARE Connect with colleagues by discussing your life outside of work.
- Try chair yoga - Bring in a fitness instructor for a lunchtime group class
What are your: - Secret skills
BOND Show your support for your teammates: - Take turns to discuss each person’s best qualities - Invite someone new for coffee or lunch - Share lunch with colleagues – each bring a different dish
- Much-loved hobbies - Weekend plans
DISCOVER Open your mind and calm your thoughts: - Try mindfulness as a team - Explore meditation - Turn off your tech! No apps, no emails, no talking – let your mind quieten
MHFA England has a vision to improve the mental health of the nation. Visit mhfaengland.org to learn more and join in online with #EmpowerHalfHour.
COPING WITH TRAUMA TRAUMATIC EVENTS At some point in your working life it’s possible you may witness or be involved in a traumatic event. Accidents and illnesses can happen out of the blue, at work and in our personal lives too, so it helps to know how you might react and the best way to handle these situations. Traumatic events can cover a variety of events – these include witnessing or being involved in an accident, the serious illness or death of someone close to you, a violent assault, and natural disasters.
Around 8% of the global population will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. DEALING WITH AN EVENT Immediately after a traumatic event such as an accident, you’re likely to feel numb, dazed and in shock. You may feel cut off from the world around you, and unable to believe what has happened. In the weeks after the incident you’ll probably experience very strong feelings. These can include: • Feeling frightened and sad, especially if you’ve lost someone close • Feeling guilty that you survived • Having headaches and memory problems
These feelings are completely normal and 90% of men and 25% of women will recover normally following a potentially traumatic incident.
It is estimated that 1 in 3 people will develop PTSD following a traumatic event. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a form of anxiety that can follow being involved in or witnessing traumatic events. PTSD can develop soon after the trauma, or months, even years later. Up to 3 out of 100 people may develop PTSD in their lifetimes. Remember it is completely normal to experience some symptoms following a traumatic incident and you should not be concerned unless symptoms last longer than four weeks. Potential symptoms of PTSD include: • Feeling numb and apart from other people • Having flashbacks, dreams or vivid memories of the event • Being more irritable than before the incident • Having pessimistic thoughts • Finding it difficult to sleep RECOVERY Most people start improving over the weeks following a traumatic event. If, after four to six weeks, you feel you
aren’t improving, see your GP. If they are concerned about you or if your symptoms are severe, and aren’t getting better there are treatments available they may suggest. This could involve talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which can help you to manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. If your doctor feels you need them they may prescribe antidepressants.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most successful type of treatment for anxiety disorders with up to 80% success rates. Talk to your line manager too, and ask them about Network Rail’s employee assistance programme. Although you can’t prevent developing PTSD statistics show that two-thirds of people with PTSD do recover within a few months without any treatment. Symptoms can be more serious and long lasting in some people, and can last a year or more, however there are treatment options available. Asking for help if you feel things aren’t improving in a few weeks is the best thing to prevent long term symptoms.
Q&A: HOW TFL IS TACKLING MENTAL HEALTH Ray Roberts, head of mental health at Transport for London (TfL), answers questions about how London’s public transport authority looks after the mental health of its employees. What kind of mental health issues do you face within TfL? At Transport for London (TfL), we employ around 27,000 people to help keep London moving, working and growing. One of the great things about working for TfL is that you get to see the difference that you make to other people’s lives every day – whether it’s helping a customer with their query or witnessing how your project or actions have helped make somebody’s journey easier. This is a very rewarding experience and can bring a smile to your face. However, it is not unexpected that within our workforce some of our staff encounter the mental health issues that people throughout society also face.
We also find that some employees who have lifelong or untreatable conditions can experience distress, so while our dedicated occupational health team are unable to treat the underlying conditions, they work closely with the individuals to manage the stress that they cause. How are you addressing these? What support mechanisms exist? We have an occupational health department at TfL, including a dedicated mental health team, which supports our staff with health-related issues with the aim of enabling them to continue with their full working routine.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for staff that are facing mental “The nature of work for health issues, along with some of our employees their line managers, to can mean that incidentapproach and tackle triggered acute trauma is any issues so we provide more likely, but many of guidance online that is the issues can be faced by easily accessible.” those in any profession, However, we recognise that such as depression, different approaches are anxiety disorders and required for various conditions illnesses relating to and for working with each eating and body image.” individual’s personal response
to their experiences – a blanket approach just isn’t suitable. It’s not about waiting until an employee is facing an issue either.
“We believe strongly in a preventative approach too, encouraging early identification, to ensure that issues don’t have to become overwhelming or advanced before somebody feels that they are able to ask for help.” There are a range of provisions from our mental health service at TfL from counselling and trauma services to a telephone helpline that offers practical and emotional support. Given that some staff are more likely to experience trauma due to the nature of their role, we also offer peer-to-peer support as well as in-house treatment. Is there work to do to encourage staff to discuss issues they’re dealing with? We think it’s vital that our employees work in an environment where they feel comfortable raising any mental health issues that they are
facing. A lot of the work that we do is around preventative measures and identifying any problems early on, as we can then work out what is the most appropriate support and treatment before the issues develop further. We run a number of workshops on stress reduction and manager resilience and these can be very useful for our members of staff and help them to manage their wellbeing.
“We are continually working to reduce the stigma and discrimination
We are also supporters of the Time to Change and Talk campaigns and we have many internal champions, who raise awareness and encourage conversations in their teams. How does the mental health of your staff impact on the business as a whole? If our members of staff are facing mental health issues, then it can affect the organisation in a number of ways. When employees are not able to get the support they need, or are too worried to ask for it, it can lead to strained and fractured relationships with their peers, managers and customers, creating a difficult environment for everybody. It can also cause those facing mental health issues to become less engaged with their work, more likely to error or have to be absent due to sickness.
that can sometimes be associated with mental ill health and encourage an environment where talking about this type of thing is a normal and natural part of the working day.”
Ultimately, all of these aspects affect productivity adversely, which is why we are so passionate about making sure that staff feel the ability to be open.
“As well as the other support opportunities already available, we also offer a number of staff the chance to undertake mental health training in This involves promoting our conjunction with Mental staff network groups, which Health First Aid (MHFA) provide a forum for employees England.“ to meet fellow colleagues in a similar position to them at TfL and give them the opportunity to talk to each other, be supported and share advice.
Their training consists of the two days MHFA training and one day of ‘TfL’ orientation training, which consolidates
their learnings and focuses it to the workplace setting. This leads to them becoming mental health first aiders, who can then support fellow employees facing mental ill health. Do you feel that this is an improving picture? I think having the programme in place with all of the different types of support, from the helpline to counselling, means that the stigma around mental ill health is definitely being challenged. It’s important to remember that once a person has a positive experience of tackling mental ill health, they are more likely to feel confident to spot the signs and open up to somebody else.
“We also encourage some of our staff who have faced mental health issues to write articles and blogs to help normalise the experience and encourage others to reach out and talk.” By increasing awareness and providing support, we are working to make sure that our organisation is open and encourages staff to discuss mental health positively. Doing so will lead to better outcomes for both our staff and the wider organisation.
MENTAL HEALTH: WHAT’S CHANGED IN 12 MONTHS? Over the past 12 months, the construction industry has been scrutinised like never before. Since Construction News revealed the results of its first mental health survey in April last year, events such as the Grenfell tragedy and Carillion’s collapse have rocked the industry. So has workforce wellbeing improved or is it still under pressure? Lucy Alderson investigates. Has workforce wellbeing improved since CN revealed the results of its first mental health survey in April last year – or is it still under pressure? Lucy Alderson investigates. Over the past 12 months, the construction industry has been scrutinised like never before. The Grenfell tragedy and Carillion’s liquidation have not only sparked government inquiries, but have also prompted the industry to examine its culture and the way companies operate. Grenfell and Carillion are vastly different in many ways, but both have highlighted dysfunctional and unsustainable aspects of the industry. Low contractor margins and tight public sector budgets create pressure to cut programmes and costs, which could ultimately be to
the detriment of projects. Subcontractors meanwhile continue to face huge challenges as a result of poor payment practices. Moreover, the two events have laid bare the human side of the industry – both in terms of the communities it serves and the workforce it employs. Mental health is at the heart of this, and is an area that is finally beginning to receive the attention it requires.
Last April, Construction News conducted its biggest piece of research for 10 years to assess the mental health of the industry’s workforce.
It was revealed that a quarter of our survey respondents had considered suicide. This year, our second survey reaffirms what the industry has come to realise over the past 12 months: that it is struggling with people’s mental health. Acknowledging the industry has a mental health problem is the first step forward. But understanding why it has a problem is critical to make real change, and this year’s results have shone a light on where these pressure points lie. WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE LAST YEAR? More than 1,300 people completed the survey this year. On the face of it, the results suggest little has
men are less likely to speak up and seek support if they’re struggling with their mental health.” However, Mr Hill says he is “very reassured” that 67 per cent of all construction workers felt mental health awareness had improved over the past 12 months.
improved over the past 12 months. One in four construction workers have considered suicide (24 per cent – same as last year), and the number of people who have experienced mental health issues has risen marginally to 57 per cent, compared with 55 per cent in 2017. Nearly a third (30 per cent) of respondents had taken time off work due to mental health issues (up marginally from 29 per cent), while even more people this year said they hid the real reason for their absence from their employer (63 per cent, up from 60 per cent). Bill Hill, chief executive of construction industry charity Lighthouse Club, says he is not “overly surprised” that the survey results are broadly similar to last year, as awareness of the industry’s mental health issue is still gaining momentum. “It will take some time,” he says. “I would never have envisaged that we could have moved any of these percentages in just one year.”
The statistics nevertheless remain worrying. Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at mental health charity Mind, says the figures highlight “how widespread mental health problems in the construction industry continue to be”. She says the number of people in the industry who have considered suicide is of particular concern, especially when taking into consideration that 56 per cent of respondents feel like they have not received an appropriate level of support from their employer.
“It is important that employers create an environment where staff feel able to talk openly about issues they are facing, as this can provide important support for those who may be struggling, Ms Mamo explains. “This is even more important in typically male-dominated sectors like construction, as we know that, on the whole,
Construction firms are taking a “major programmatical” approach to improving the problem, he says, investing in initiatives such as mental health first aid training – especially for supervisors and those working at management levels. STILL A STIGMA One of the highest proportions recorded in this year’s survey is the number of people who feel there is stigma attached to mental health, with 81 per cent agreeing this is the case (compared with 82 per cent last year). “From a personal perspective, this statistic looks high,” says Jaan Madan, workplace lead for Mental Health First Aid, which provides awareness training and consultancy services to various industries, including construction. He says a “perfect storm” has developed, triggered by the combination of a mental health stigma and a belief that if you do speak up, you won’t receive adequate support. This year’s survey revealed 56 per cent of respondents felt they had not received an appropriate level of support for their mental health issue. “We’re getting close to 60 per cent of the workforce who feel that they are not well supported,” Mr Madan says.
companies gave similar reasons for poor mental health – primarily chasing payments and coping with the pressures faced in delivering projects. “My breakdown was caused when I was working on the tools,” one survey respondent who works at a small company said. “Working away from home, firms not paying on time (or the agreed amount) caused financial strains at home.” “And if people feel there is a stigma, then one of the things we know about stigma is that […] it is one of the biggest barriers for people wanting to access support around mental health and wellbeing.”
“There’s something about mental health and talking about this with an employer that [the industry] has not been able to overcome” Lisa Curran, Barhale Mr Madan adds that there will also be a large number of people who will not have come forward to their employer to seek support about their mental health. If those who are struggling in silence hear stories of inadequate support for colleagues’ mental health issues, they will be even less likely to come forward and seek help, he suggests. An area of concern for Lisa Curran, who is a consultant in occupational medicine and a director at Barhale, is that people do not feel confident seeking support from their employer for mental health issues.
Nearly a third (30 per cent) took time off work due to poor mental health. Among those who did, almost two-thirds (63 per cent) hid the real reason why they were absent. “This is still a real problem,” Dr Curran says. “There’s something about mental health and talking about this with an employer that [the industry] has not been able to overcome.” Making sure your employees know that discussions about their mental health will be kept in complete confidence is important, she adds, in order to remove any fears that they might be judged or be subject to negative repercussions. SMALLER COMPANIES, PAYMENT AND STRESS This year’s survey results suggests poor mental health is especially prevalent among those working at smaller companies (employing fewer than 100 people), with 65 per cent of respondents from such companies having experienced mental health issues. This has increased significantly from 56 per cent the previous year. Those working in smaller
Another respondent working at a similar-sized company said: “I work in a high-pressure environment. I am constantly working to tender deadlines, amongst my other work duties. I often work unpaid overtime just to meet deadlines, and by the time I get home I am too tired to relax or enjoy myself. I suffer from chronic migraines, which are often triggered by work stress.” For Walker Construction managing director Phil Webb, payment and cashflow is his biggest concern. The Kentbased contractor employs 273 staff and also works for larger national tier ones. In January it was left out of pocket after the collapse of Carillion. “If people feel there is a stigma, then one of the things we know about stigma is that… it is one of the biggest barriers for people wanting to access support around mental health and wellbeing” Jaan Madan, Mental Health First Aid
“Late payment is the biggest stress in my life,” Mr Webb says. “Cash is king, as they say. Despite what your turnover is and what your profitability is, if you haven’t got cash coming into the business then you can’t survive.” Walker Construction works for Network Rail, and the MD praises the client’s plan to ban retentions and mandate 28-day payment terms as a positive step forward. If the government mandated a similar initiative, he suggests, it could help decrease payment worries experienced along the supply chain. “Particularly for the tier one contractors, it should be written into their contracts that they will pay their supply chain within the same timeframe they are getting paid themselves,” he says.
More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of junior employees said they had experienced mental health issues (up from 64 per cent last year). Furthermore, nearly one in three (31 per cent) of this younger generation had considered suicide, compared with one in four across the survey as a whole. Following CN’s research last year, Skanska chief executive Gregor Craig launched a company-wide analysis into mental health of this younger demographic within the business. “Off the back of CN’s survey last year, one of the things that surprised me was the responses from graduates and junior members of staff, and how some of our younger people are struggling these days,” Mr Craig says.
“We now have mental health training as part From working with firms across the industry, Mental of all of our graduate Health First Aid’s Mr Jaan and apprenticeship says his organisation often induction programmes, hears about the impact of to make sure they come poor payment practices on into the organisation wellbeing in the supply chain. knowing exactly what “What comes up in the the company’s approach conversations we have with line managers, site foremen or to mental health is – senior leaders is [payment] will and they know what be a pressure or add stress,” to do when they [find] he says, adding that zerothemselves in a bit of a hour contracts, uncertainty problem.” about workflow, unfavourable working conditions and moving around for work are all frequently cited challenges. SUPPORTING MILLENNIALS A high number of junior members of staff and graduates who filled out this year’s survey said they were struggling with poor mental health.
He says research conducted by the company highlighted several problems facing younger people that can have an impact on their mental health, including loneliness, moving away from family and friends for work, and the negative effects of social media.
WHAT CAN BE DONE? As this year’s largely unchanged results show, tackling these worrying statistics will take time. Dr Curran argues that the government could have a role to play in this. She suggests firms could be measured on a key performance indicator based on quality of employment, where employees give feedback on their experience working for the company. “It would massively incentivise employers to create good workplaces and it would have to be supported by the government,” she says. For Mr Webb, looking after the workforce should be viewed as making commercial sense and not just a moral initiative. His company has trained a number of its workers to become mental health first aiders and has invested in a counselling service hotline, which is available not only for its workforce but their families too. “We work in a high-risk industry, and we undertake safety-critical roles,” he says. “If some workers are experiencing mental health issues, then they could harm themselves and others around them.” The next stage of the Lighthouse Club charity’s strategy to support the industry’s workforce is to improve communication of the support and resources available to those struggling with mental health. To this end, the charity is planning to launch an app called Building Buddies
around Christmas time this year, says chief executive Mr Hill. The app will aim to help construction workers access the right help or guidance according to their needs, as well as providing self-help tips for workers. Once the app has been rolled out in English, Mr Hill hopes to offer it in different languages to remove any barriers that may prevent workers from seeking support. ‘We’re at the start of the journey’ The industry’s mental health problem remains as pressing as it was last year, with little difference between 2017’s troubling revelations. But this is not to say the industry isn’t making real progress addressing the issue.
Many companies across the sector are rolling out mental health training (especially to those in managerial positions); the CITB has committed funding to train nearly 2,500 mental health first aiders for construction by 2020; and toolbox talks focused on mental health are becoming more widespread on sites. Furthermore, companies including Laing O’Rourke, Morgan Sindall and Osborne took part in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Awards, which recognises best practice procedures employers are putting in place to support the mental health and wellbeing of their workforces. This work is reflected in CN’s statistics, Ms Mamo says. “You
can see the signs of this [work] in these statistics, with so many employees feeling that mental health awareness has improved.” “We work in a high-risk industry, and we undertake safety-critical roles. If some workers are experiencing mental health issues, then they could harm themselves and others around them.” Phil Webb, Walker Construction Mr Hill says the industry is at the beginning of a “very long road” to fully understanding the mental health issues in the sector, but remains optimistic about what can be done. “This is the most cohesively I have seen the industry work,” he says. “Information and best practice is being shared.”
address the effect the industry has on its workforce. “People’s lives were devastated [by] the fallout. That in itself will have a huge impact on mental health.” However, he says the industry is capable of a strong and collaborative response in supporting its workforce, as those who had lost their jobs at Carillion were taken on by many other contractors. Carillion – and events such as Grenfell – have rocked the industry, and the way it operates is under interrogation.
Now more than ever, there is a chance to drive forward real change – with improving mental health as the heart of In the aftermath of Carillion, Mr Hill says the current climate this. has highlighted the need to
GET SUPPORT Construction Industry Helpline 0345 605 1956 – managed and funded by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity Mind, the mental health charity 0300 123 3393 – provides advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem The Samaritans 116 123 – confidential 24-hour support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts
LIVING WITH MENTAL HEALTH Mental health conditions, such as stress, depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder, are becoming more common in the UK and it’s estimated that 1 in 4 of us will experience some kind of mental health issue each year. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of people who have publicly identified themselves as living with a mental health condition, including England cricketer Marcus Trescothick, actor and comedian Stephen Fry and former political advisor Alastair Campbell. Each of them have helped others to understand that mental health issues can affect men and women, rich and poor, young and old. For example 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time and depression affects 1 in 5 older people. These days, talking about physical health issues, such as a broken leg or even heart disease, have become easier as people feel more
comfortable and supported. Unfortunately, many people living with mental health problems still feel unable to tell others how they are feeling, and spend months or years struggling on their own. Yet initiatives such as ‘Time to Change’ are changing people’s perception of mental health problems and encouraging more people to feel able to talk openly about how they are feeling. Whilst there are many things that can influence a person’s mental health and well-being including; biological factors, mental and social factors, it’s important to bear in mind that many people live with mental health problems and are able to lead positive, fulfilling lives. One in six workers experience depression, anxiety or unmanageable stress. A further one in six experience symptoms of mental ill health such as sleep problems and fatigue. Talking to others, making changes to lifestyle and using effective support
services are great ways to enable you to carry on with life as ‘normal’. TALKING ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH When living with a mental health issue, sometimes the hardest first step is just talking to someone else and letting them know how you’re feeling. You worry how they will respond, if they will think you are just being silly or if it makes you look weak. Whilst these feelings are entirely understandable, thousands of people living with mental health problems report that the best thing they did was to take the brave step and talk about how they are feeling with someone, whether a friend, their GP, a colleague, a manager or a confidential support service. Sometimes, it might be that you are concerned about someone else’s mental wellbeing and might not know how to broach the subject. You might think that you need to be a health specialist, or have
some form of training to be able to discuss mental health issues – neither of these are true. Often, the most powerful and helpful thing you can do is to simply ask, “how are you?” or “is everything ok?” and to listen to what is said in a nonjudgemental way.
intervention. Try to keep a diary of when you’ve felt depressed or anxious – where you were, what time of day, and whether anything triggered it or made it worse. This could be useful information if you decide to visit your GP to discuss treatment options.
Self-help techniques can also be effective in managing the symptoms of many mental health problems and for some people mean that no other treatment is needed. Talking treatments are exactly that, they help with your problems by talking about them with trained therapists. For example, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) looks at the way you think and feel and helps you deal with your thoughts and change the way you respond to them.
Some things that can help make the conversation a positive one include talking in a private location that you both feel comfortable in, giving yourself sufficient time so that it’s not rushed, and making sure that the other person knows anything you discuss will remain private. If you feel that the person may benefit from further support, you may want to highlight the benefits of them talking to someone such as their GP or Network Rail’s employee assistance programme.
Looking after your health and well-being may help prevent some problems developing or getting worse. Studies show that exercise helps if you have depression. Choose something you enjoy doing, as you’re more likely to stick with it. Ask your GP if they offer an exercise referral scheme in your local area. It is also important to maintain a social life as it can help you feel valued and confident about yourself as well as providing you with a different perspective on things.
Mindfulness-based therapies involve talking therapies and mindfulness meditation, and help you lower your stress levels and make changes to your life. With counselling, you talk about your problems with a trained therapist, and look at ways in which you can deal with them and reduce your depression.
If you do visit your GP there are two main types of treatment they are likely to offer you – talking treatments and/or medication.
Your GP may recommend taking anti-depressants alongside a talking therapy, but this will depend on the severity of your symptoms.
It is still possible to lead a normal life through changes in lifestyle or medical
RACHEL’S STORY: I didn’t tell my new manager about my depression until my circumstances changed so drastically that I knew it would affect my work. I’d already been in my current role for a year by then so I knew and trusted my department, but I still didn’t feel I could “go public” about my depression. A few months later, it got to a point where I’d started having panic attacks at work, and just my manager and HR director wasn’t enough. So, very nervously, I told the rest of my department one lunchtime.
“They were so supportive and wanted to do whatever they could to help me.” They don’t treat me any differently, and they take a genuine interest in how I am. I finally felt like I’d found a workplace where I could feel valued and settled, and it meant so much to me. That all fell apart when my manager told us he was
leaving: it came as a total shock. It was terrifying telling my new manager, someone I’d known for one day, about my depression - I had no idea how he’d react. I’d needn’t have worried because he handled it brilliantly. I told him I’d had depression for a long time, I was managing it with my GP and that it wasn’t really affecting work at that point.
of many weeks of informal catch-ups, meetings with HR and occupational health, counselling and breakdowns before being signed off work and coming back on a phased return. But my department, my manager and HR director have been fantastic, and with their support I’ve got a Wellness Action Plan in place.
“Being back at work, and feeling so empowered However, within a week to talk about my I’d been told to book an mental health with my emergency appointment colleagues, has had such with my GP because I’d been experiencing suicidal thoughts, a positive impact on my life.” and that I should consider reducing my hours at work. It turned out to be the start
I’ve got amazing support at work. My colleagues are now
used to me commandeering a glorified cupboard so that I can listen to music and do some colouring in when life feels a little overwhelming. It’s nice knowing that, slowly but surely, I’m getting well again. I had an amazing moment this week when I compared my occupational health report from just before I was signed off work three months ago with the one from last week - it’s unreal to think how far I’ve come in that time, thanks to the support I’ve had from my friends, family and work, and my own hard work. My friends and family have been amazing during this turbulent time as well. They’ve encouraged me to speak to my GP and to my manager, spoken to me on the phone at stupid o’clock and dealt with me turning up unannounced
on their doorsteps. They’ve reminded me of who I am when depression isn’t clouding my judgement, and that they’ve always loved me and always will.
my health deteriorated when I stopped doing them. I’ve also started meditating - originally I’d pooh-poohed the idea, but taking time each day to just “be” is so grounding.
My life has changed so much - I’ve lost people who were my rock, but I’ve made some fantastic new friends along the way.
In my previous blog, I said how one day I’d be more open about my mental health. I’m so glad I’ve reached that point, even if it took me a few years to get there. I’ve taken ownership of my depression, and I’m proud of how much I’ve achieved.
I’ve learned a lot about myself, and what I need to stay well.
“Self-care isn’t all cake and bubble baths - it’s about survival. Some days it’s remembering to brush your teeth, to eat and drink.” I’ve discovered new hobbies like singing in a choir and going to the gym. I thought they were extravagant, but I and others noticed how much
The fact that my openness has encouraged others to seek help for their mental health issues, or even just think about mental health, is incredible. I always said I’d have my “small but perfectly formed” support network to thank, and I do - it’s just now it’s a different group of people, and it’s a lot bigger.
It's hard enough to experience mental health problems, without having to face the judgement, shame and isolation that often surrounds them. That's why we want to end mental health discrimination. Time to Change is a growing social movement working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems. We’ve already reached millions of people and begun to improve attitudes and behaviour. The reality is that mental
health can aﬀect anyone. Statistically, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year. That’s why our work is so important.
No one should have to fear being treated diﬀerently because of a mental health problem.
in England across all sectors from FTSE 100 companies and leading retailers to Government departments and local authorities. WHY SIGN?
It can be really hard to open up about mental health at work: 95 per cent of people calling in sick with stress give a different reason.
have completed an action plan which Time to Change has approved. If you’re passionate about mental health, you can support your organisation in this effort by registering to be a Time to Change Champion.
That’s why we work with more than 800 employers to change attitudes to mental health in their workplace.
Talking about mental health at work can be daunting: people may worry about how they will be treated and how their colleagues will react. As a Time to Change Champion, you can make a real difference to your workplace culture and to the lives of your colleagues, working with your organisation to make mental health a normal topic of conversation, dispelling myths and making it easier for people to seek support.
1 in 4 British workers are affected by conditions like anxiety and depression every year. It is a myth that people with mental health problems can’t work. With the right support people with mental health problems perform vital roles in workplaces across the country. However, mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace remain an issue. The blogs below are written by people who have experience of mental illness in the workplace and show the different ways people can react. HAS YOUR ORGANISATION SIGNED THE TIME TO CHANGE EMPLOYER PLEDGE? If yes, then your organisation has already demonstrated that they intend to change the way people think and act about mental health at work, and
WHAT IS THE TIME TO CHANGE EMPLOYER PLEDGE? When you sign the Employer Pledge you demonstrate your commitment to change how we think and act about mental health in the workplace and make sure that employees who are facing these problems feel supported. By signing the Pledge you will join a growing movement of more than 900 employers
Mental health is an issue your organisation can’t afford to ignore: Mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK, costing an average of £1,035 per employee per year Looking after the mental health of your employees makes business sense: tackling stigma can make a real difference to sickness absence rates, presenteeism levels, staff wellbeing and productivity, and retention. Since signing the Employer Pledge, 95% of employers said it had a positive impact on their organisation. Time to Change will work with you to develop an action plan to get your employees talking about mental health. Once your action plan action has been finalised we will send you a Pledge board that a senior leader can sign in front of your employees to mark your commitment. All our signed organisations commit to normalising the conversation about mental health in the workplace. We love to showcase great examples of how they have used the Employer Pledge and our seven key principles to provide ideas for what you can do in your workplace.
See just some of the 1017 organisations who have already joined the pledge >>
Case Study: Equipping Line Managers to Have Conversations About Mental Health
Thames Water At Thames Water we provide water and sewerage services to over 15 million members of the public within Great Britain, ultimately meaning we play a vital role in the daily lives of all of these people. Our work is shaped by our six values; our values are created by people from right across our business and are important to everyone who works for us. One of our six values is ‘take care’ – we look after ourselves, our customers and our business. We have a zero compromise approach to health, safety and wellbeing. Another one of our values is to ‘reach higher, be better’ – we are always learning and challenging ourselves and each other to be the very best we can be. We are not afraid to try new things and work towards a better future. Our strong values for our people have led us to be at the forefront of health and wellbeing initiatives, more recently with a significant focus on mental health at work. Removing the stigma around mental health has always been a key objective of our wellbeing agenda. Over recent years we had started to make some progress with resilience training and manager support but recognised the term ‘mental health’ was still rarely used in any of our communications. We saw Karen from Time to Change speak at one of our senior H&S leadership meetings and we were keen to move forward and commit to the Time to Change pledge. This really helped us to identify the key initiatives we wanted to focus on in our commitment to removing the stigma around mental health at work. This included mental health training, open engagement forums and the introduction of mental health first aiders. This has since led us to developing an excellent mental health strategy for our business. The impact this has had already is
on our Yammer based engagement forum.
Equipping Line Managers to Talk About Mental Health significant and can be recognised through an increase in OH referrals and also participation on our Yammer based engagement forum. We have developed an innovative and forward thinking mental health awareness course called ‘Mind Fit’. This was based upon the MIND mental health first aid light course however we have Equipping Line Managers to Talk About Mental Health tailored this to include elements of virtual reality. The delegates are all given a VR headset and view a series of VR films and active videos. It enables the delegate to be in the shoes of someone suffering from severe depression. It also enables the delegates to consider how they We an innovative and forward thinking health awareness called mayhave havedeveloped acted in similar situations and how they havemental ignored warning signs incourse the past. ‘Mind Fit’. This was based upon the MIND mental health first aid light course however we have tailored this to include elements of virtual reality. The delegates are all given a VR headset and view a series of VR films and active videos. It enables the delegate to be in the shoes of Successes & Challenges someone suffering from severe depression. It also enables the delegates to consider how they may have acted in similar situations and how they have ignored warning signs in the past. Our main obstacles involved the technology and ensuring the VR and videos depicted a true real life situation. Once we became more familiar with the technology and created an app to & Challenges allow the smooth running of the Successes VR technology the interest in the training continued to grow. We expected to have to promote our training however this has not been required, interest has been generated through word of mouth. Our main obstacles the technology and ensuring the VR and videos depicted a true Discussion on all ofinvolved our engagement real life situation. Once we became forums after each course seemed more to familiar with the technology and created an app to allow and the smooth running of the VR technology the interest in the training continued to grow. grow grow. There is now a waiting We expected to have to promote training however this has not been required, interest has list for all courses until the end our of the been generated through word of mouth. year. Many of those undertaking the Discussion all of have our engagement Mind Fit on course since put forums afterforward each course to themselves to do seemed the MHFA grow and grow. There is now a waiting course. list for all courses until the end of the Discussion around mental health year. Many of those undertaking the across the business is growing, weekly Mind Fit course have since put posts on our engagement forms, themselves forward to do the MHFA frequent emails and phone calls to OH course. from managers and MHFAs requesting Discussion aroundhaving mental effective health support after across the business is growing, weekly conversations. posts on our engagement forms, The training we have developed has given managers and frequent emails and phone calls to OH colleagues the knowledge and real life experience to not from managers and MHFAs requesting ignore signs and engage in conversation. support after having effective conversations. We believe mental health awareness training is essential for all employees. Without the basic knowledge, other initiatives will not be successful. The training really kicked off our mental health strategy at TW. By creating something new, innovative and exciting, the training has generated lots of discussion and interest, gathering momentum. VR equipment and technology is expensive, however once purchased can be used time and time again for all different types of training. The real life, lived experience was the key factor in our training that has enabled people and managers to have effective conversations. This is something we will continue to use to influence change. VR technology is new and innovative and needs a specialist team to create what is required. If setting out to do something similar it is important the brief is clear.
ADVANCE TRS SAFETY BRIEFING 2019 Do you need help? Remember, you are not alone. If you or someone you know needs urgent help or support, there are a variety of confidential services available. Your organisation may also provide you with confidential access to counselling and advice line services. Rail Industry Confidential Reporting:
0800 4 101101
Construction Industry Helpline:
0345 605 1956
Mates in Mind:
020 3510 5018
116 123 (UK & ROI)
0300 123 3393
Electrical Industries Charity:
0800 652 1618
Prevention of Young Suicide - Papyrus:
0800 068 4141
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM):
0800 58 58 58
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Mental health issues are a normal part of life. In any one year, approximately one in four people experience at least one diagnosable mental...
Published on Jun 3, 2019
Mental health issues are a normal part of life. In any one year, approximately one in four people experience at least one diagnosable mental...