With over 1.1 million people employed by the Australian construction industry, making up around 8% of the nation’s GDP, the physical health and safety of industry workers are of utmost importance. A topic that is rarely talked about, however, is the mental health and safety of industry workers.
A study commissioned by beyond blue discovered an elevated prevalence of depression and anxiety in the construction industry. Additionally, according to recent reports from MATES in Construction and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC); construction workers are more than twice as likely to attempt or die by suicide than other individuals in Australia.
These findings are confronting; however, they are the reason why we need to have a chat about industry related mental health issues. Not only is it important for workers to be aware of symptoms and rehabilitating pathways; it is also important for leaders to understand that a portion of people they employ may have experienced mental illness at a point in time. From here, leaders can further their expertise and and educate themselves on supportive techniques.
Ignoring Mental Illness Costs The Industry
Unsurprisingly, mental health in the construction industry costs Australian businesses that ignore mental illness in the workplace nearly $11 billion annually. If these businesses invested a single gold coin towards programs that assisted in awareness of mental health in the workplace, they would experience a return of more than double what they spent.
Where To Start
A percentage of employees tend to ignore their mental illnesses in their workplace, primarily due to fear of potential discrimination, harassment or reduced opportunities for career progression. If you want to implement an open environment, where mental health is discussed openly, you can start with ChessConnect’s Six Pillars of Support: Reduce Stigma, Increase Awareness, Make a Commitment, Support Employees, Building Skills and Confidence, Education on Workplace Bullying.
Heads Up is a fantastic starting point to learn more about how you can assist employees who may be struggling. It is primarily run in alliance with beyond blue and The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance. They also provide education, training and online programs so you can build your expertise and skills of your employees.
MATES in Construction is an industry based charity with an aim to reduce the high levels of suicide among construction workers. They have found their program on the simple idea that “suicide is everyone’s business.” This organisation provides advocate positions, training, fundraising events, and partnerships.
By supporting and promoting good mental health, you will ensure higher workplace morale, high efficiency work and increase confidence and enjoyability at work. You will create a diverse workplace, encourage openness and even help someone who wasn’t aware they needed help. The previously mentioned statistics are shocking and confronting, but the more we talk about it, the more we can effect positive change.