I am increasingly being asked, on a daily basis, for pointers about mental health and wellbeing and thought it would be helpful to answer a few of the most common questions that arise.
What is ‘good’ mental health?
The World Health Organisation defines good mental health as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and is able to make a contribution to their community.
What causes poor mental health?
In recent surveys undertaken within the construction industry, a number of factors have been cited as causes of mental health problems. These include poor work/life balance and working excessive hours, as well as the payment culture within the industry and the resulting financial pressures many workers find themselves under. Such causes need to be further examined but mental health problems can stem from many sources, in some cases unrelated to work. If prevention is not possible then it is key to recognise suffering early and offer help before it’s too late.
What can you do as an employer to promote positive mental health?
Lead by example. Senior management must be committed to promoting wellbeing in the workplace. A variety of measures can be taken from introducing a mental health policy, developing an Employee Assistance Programme, delivering regular toolbox talks on the subject of mental health, through to training and having qualified Mental Health First Aiders on site. Follow best practice where possible and be aware of what larger organisations and industry leaders are doing.
What is the Government doing to support the cause?
At some point in the future, legislation may well be in place to ensure a given number of Mental Health First Aiders are on site. A ratio of 1 Mental Health First Aider to 100 workers has been suggested. Meantime, the Government is shining a bright spotlight on the issue. In December last year the Department of Health and Social Care announced a 10-year research strategy on mental health, encouraging researchers to work with industry to generate evidence for construction workplace mental health programmes, so we know how to improve company mental health, happiness and productivity.
Where can you turn to for help?
There are a growing number of organisations who specialise in mental health specifically for the construction industry. Building Mental Health is one such organisation, which has established a core framework and charter to tackle the mental health crisis we are witnessing. THSP have signed up to this charter and are committed to making a difference and promoting wellbeing in the construction workplace, as well as consultancy services. Please do call us for advice and support on 03456 122 144. Together we can make a difference.