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Mental health in construction

Posted on 13/05/2024 at 9:05 AM by in Blog

Construction is not an easy line of work, and it comes with a lot of pressure and stress in the form of tight deadlines, heavy labour, and long hours away from loved ones.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, it’s not surprising to learn that many in the industry struggle with their mental health, but we’re still not talking about it enough.

While we have seen a big increase in the amount of people openly talking about their mental health struggles in recent years, there is still lots of work to be done.

In support of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve taken a look at the current mental health situation in UK construction, and what we can do to help.

The problem

In short, the UK construction industry is currently facing a mental health crisis.

Workers are struggling with stress and depression, suicide rates are high, and a culture of silence means that many feel like they cannot seek help. This doesn’t take into account the damage that the COVID-19 pandemic caused either.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2021, construction workers were nearly four times more likely to take their own lives than workers in other sectors (34 per 100,000).

This is a shocking statistic to read, and shows that this industry in particular has a real problem with mental health.

A role in construction can be very hard, with stressful environments and physically demanding work, as well as the possibility of financial instability and job insecurity.

The use of temporary contracts and project-based work specifically can leave workers stressed about their job security, wondering when the next job will be and if they can make ends meet.

While a lot of work has been done to un-do this mindset, construction still suffers from a “tough guy” culture that prevents people from speaking up about their feelings. There is still a stigma around discussing mental health problems, whether it’s among colleagues or even close friends and family.

The impact

Poor mental health can have a huge impact, not only on ourselves but those around us.

When someone takes their own life, it has a massive impact on all of those around. Families are left devastated, and fellow workers grieve for their colleague. It’s hard for those effected to not blame themselves for what happened, wishing they had reached out or tried to help in some way.

In some cases, it can even be the catalyst for someone else to take their own life, especially those working in similar conditions.

Suffering from poor mental health at work can greatly impact your focus, which increases the risk of accidents while on-site. In an environment where so much could go wrong, a strong focus is needed to keep everyone safe.

Mental health struggles will, of course, impact on sickness and availability to work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that in 2022/23, stress, anxiety, and depression accounted for 49% of work-related ill health, resulting in a staggering 17.1 million working days lost.

The solution

There are several things that we can do to improve our mental health and reduce the stigma around the topic of mental health.

First, we need to encourage open discussions about our mental health struggles, and start communicating about how we’re feeling. We need to be honest, and let people know if we’re overwhelmed.

We need to support each other and offer help where we can. You never know how much someone will appreciate a simple coffee and a catch-up.

We need to break down the barriers surrounding this culture of silence, and challenge any negative stereotypes about mental health.

There are also many things that companies can do and put into place to help with this as well. Organising mental health awareness training for management can help to identify signs of stress, anxiety, or depression in workers, and equip them with the tools to provide the support needed.

You should also promote wellbeing, providing workshops or resources on stress management, encouraging healthy habits like exercise and healthier food options, and organising team-building events.

Helpful links

Mates in Mind:

Mates in Mind is a leading UK charity raising awareness and addressing the stigma of poor mental health. They promote and lead on the development of positive mental wellbeing within the workplace.

Mates in Mind works across industries, focusing on construction, as well as related sectors including transport, logistics, manufacturing, and others.

Mates in Mind aims to provide clear information to employers about the available support and guidance on mental health and wellbeing, and how they can address this within their organisations.

Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity:

The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity is a charity that provides emotional, physical and financial wellbeing support to the construction community and their families.

A crucial element of their strategy is to provide a wide range of free and widely available pro-active resources to support the industry:

  • 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline
  • Text HARDHAT Support Service
  • Live Chat Service
  • Self Support App
  • Lighthouse Beacons
  • Education & Training – Wellbeing Academy

“Every working day, two construction workers take their own life. We have to educate everyone in our industry to recognise the signs and symptoms of our colleagues that are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression and start the conversation to assist in their recovery. Please join us now, our work is just beginning.”

Building Mental Health Charter:

Building Mental Health is an initiative led by industry experts, providing support and advice to increase awareness of mental health.

Their purpose is to provide a flexible and consistent framework to enable all parts of the construction sector to access mental health support, provide awareness and training and put in place a structure and systems to support people working in and around our industry.


If you are really struggling with your mental health, please consider contacting Samaritans on 116 123. Their helpline is free of charge, and you can call any time, day or night.


Tackling the mental health crisis in construction isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, but by banding together and supporting each other, we can help a lot of people.

If you’d like to get involved in the conversation, please share this article on social media and tag us @utilitysearches on X (formerly Twitter) or our company LinkedIn page.

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