Construction workers are at significantly greater risk of suicide than workers in other industries, NSW government data shows that construction workers are six times more likely to die by suicide than a workplace accident and sadly a worker takes their life every two days.
With new pressures facing construction workers during the coronavirus pandemic, the stresses involved with this industry have reached new peaks that must be combated.
Here at Brix Projects our first priority is the health and wellbeing of our employees and to make sure we are always there to support our staff. In this blog we will discuss how you can also help to eliminate mental health concerns in your workplace.
Create a safe space for employees
When staff feel emotionally safe in the workplace, they feel able to speak up and communicate openly. They aren’t held back by the fear that by voicing their views or talking about their feelings, they’re making themselves vulnerable or open to criticism.
It is important to create a healthy and supportive environment for your employees. During team meetings allow opportunity for staff to talk freely and make a point of starting conversations around mental health and emotional well-being.
Putting emotional safety at the forefront of everyday culture is something all companies should be doing. Companies such as Google firmly believe in the significance of psychological safety having conducted a four-year study and concluding it’s the number one predictor of team success.
Provide your team with support and access to different treatments
For an employee experiencing a mental health issue, having a supportive manager who genuinely cares can make a huge difference to how quickly they recover.
If you work for a large organisation, make a suggestion to your HR department that counselling services are included in benefit packages and always offer mental health days to employees who might be struggling. This gives someone the opportunity to seek help themselves away from the pressures of work.
For someone experiencing a mental health condition, such as anxiety or depression, work can play a vital role in their recovery. It provides structure, routine and a sense of purpose. It also provides financial security and regular social interaction.
Effective treatment for mental health conditions include medical intervention, psychological treatment and lifestyle strategies. Most people will benefit from a combination of all three.
As a manager always encourage an employee to seek help from a health professional, you could also spend time developing a plan with the employee. A treatment plan you work on together may include:
- learning to manage or avoid things that may trigger setbacks
- eating well and exercising regularly
- getting enough sleep
- finding time for the things you enjoy
- spending time with supportive friends and family
- regular appointments with health professionals
Provide Education, First Aid Training and raise awareness
Providing training and raising awareness in the workplace, is the first step towards decreasing the stigma around mental health. MATES in construction is widely known through-out the building and construction Industry, and was established to reduce the high level of suicide among Australian construction workers. MATES provide general awareness training which introduces staff to the nature of the problem, that it’s okay to talk about mental health and provides practical guidance as to how they can assist. MATES also offer more in-depth training to help keep someone safe in a crisis, while at the same time connecting them to professional help.
Red Cross has developed Mental Health Matters short courses which are delivered as workshops and can be customised to suit your workplace situation. These type of workshops cover a broad scope of support including how to spot the signs, responding to these concerns, support and assistance and information for managers supporting an employee.
Know the warning signs
Signs and symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Examples of signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Major changes in eating habits
- Sex drive changes
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence
- Suicidal thinking
Check out our recent blog which discusses the signs to look out for if you have concerns that a work colleague or employee is going through a difficult time.
At BriX Projects our first priority is the health and wellbeing of our employees, which is why we have such a strong process in place and are supportive of their needs. But we need you to talk to us and let us know when you’re having problems so we can help.
Tony Rush (National Recruitment and Operations Manager and MATES Connector)
T: 02 9326 7541