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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

CITB report highlights challenges around employers support for mental health

A consistent and on-going approach to support construction workers’ mental health is needed if continued improvements are to be made, new research from CITB has found.

The organisation’s Mental Health And Construction: A Consistent Approach research, is the most comprehensive study conducted on mental health and self-harm within construction. The report identifies opportunities for industry to address shortcomings and improve wellbeing for workers.

The new research has outlined the scale of the mental health challenge facing construction. It said that the risk of suicide among some site-based workers is three times the national average and a May 2020 Chartered Institute of Building report found that 26% of construction workers who responded to their survey had experienced suicidal thoughts; 97% had experienced stress over the past year.

CITB’s research highlights a growing number of good initiatives, including the Safer Highways Thriving at Work survey, but finds that their impact is currently held back by the lack of a coherent aim and message. Given the growing need to tackle mental health, developing a joined-up approach has become more urgent.

The research found that existing mental health provision in the construction sector was fairly strong, with 85% of construction companies surveyed, indicated they provided one or more mental health supports, with over 46% saying they would offer more support over the next year.

The findings said that leadership by CITB in collaboration with others could include: setting up a working group, providing a centralised platform for information and support and promoting work already on-going.

However, the research also said that there is a lack of evidence regarding which mental health and wellbeing interventions are effective and in what circumstances, as over 70% of those companies surveyed said they did not measure the mental health and wellbeing of employees. There was also mixed views on the need for leadership and guidance in relation to mental health.

The report recommendations include creating a mental health dashboard, providing a risk/maturity matrix to measure mental heath and wellbeing of employees and to measure the effectiveness of interventions.

The research also says there needs to be more consistent and accessible support for workers in the smaller firms that supply larger ones. Many employers provide mental health and wellbeing support programmes to workers in their supply chains. However, these workers are often not aware that they can access mental health and wellbeing resources from their principal contractor.

CITB has invested in programmes aimed at helping industry develop skills, behaviours and ways of working that will make it a safer, healthier place to work. Since June 2018 it has funded over 29.000 mental health courses.

In May, Safer Highways launched its third annual Thriving at Work report. The survey aims to once again consider the standards of provision around mental health in the workplace.

Last year the organisation sampled the 250 of the biggest organisations who work, not only on the strategic road network, but also who serve to maintain local roads to establish where the sector sits against the government’s Thriving at Work report – published in 2017.

Sponsored by Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, Safer Highways has now been able to develop a new tool to not only vertically cross-slice the highways sector but also horizontally make a base line comparison between ourselves and other sectors which include Aviation, Rail, Maritime, Utilities, Construction, Fleet and Logistics and indeed extend itsreach into the pharmaceutical and secondary education sectors with the ambitious goal being to effectively be able to benchmark the entire UK plc over the coming years.

To fill in the survey, please click on the survey link below.

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