Across the UK, individuals and workplaces are adapting to a state of ‘the new normal’ as we take precautions in line with the management of the current Covid-19 outbreak.  

Over a short period of time the way that we live, and work has undergone huge changes, and with this change, the pressures around managing mental health, especially within high risk industries like the construction sector, have become ever more prominent. 

Even before the Covid-19 crisis hit, within the sector, the risk of suicide is more than three times higher than the national average, with factors such as financial insecurity, long and often irregular hours and the pressures of upkeeping a traditionally “macho” attitude, leading to the silence and stigma that prevents individuals from asking for help.1 

The recent precautions around the pandemic, such social distancing and self-isolation, as well as a decline in the work available to the industry have presented additional factors, which could negatively impact the mental health of workers. 

How organisations can lead the way 

Communication  

Communication with your workforce during this period is key. By communicating regularly and clearly with your team about Covid-19, and starting a conversation about this mental health during this time is hugely important. Opening up this vital discussion is normalising the conversation, which will encourage those who might be struggling, to reach out for support.  

It is also vital that organisations address the topic directly. Try to be as informative and clear as you can be about your organisation’s situation and keep your workforce up to date as to any changes and developments they can expect.  

Signposting  

Let your employees know they are not alone by making them aware of the support options available to them. Regularly flag how to get in touch with internal HR departments and if applicable, share the details of your Employee Assistance Programme. Finally, there are a number of confidential support services available to signpost your employees too, which cover financial advice, emergency mental health support, addiction support and much more.  

Remind your workforce that there is always someone there to support them. It is easy to feel isolated and unsupported during these uncertain times, but by encouraging an open and honest dialogue within organisations we can help each other through this difficult period in time.  

We are here to help  

In the shadow of the coronavirus, we urge employers and industry leaders to note that it is more important than ever for the industry to put its arms around workers.  

Mates in Mind is working to support the industry and the people in it, we’re providing access to free resources and training and evolving our programme to be better tailored to this ‘new normal’ to help our Supporters provide the right mental health support to their employees. 

But we cannot do this alone. With the current UK lockdown potentially going on for many months, now is the time for an industry-wider response.  

We urge organisations across the industry and beyond to get in touch with our dedicated support team at [email protected] to find out how we can help improve the mental health of your workforce.  

  1. Reference: Office for National Statistics, Suicide by occupation, England 2011 to 2015, 2017