This week marks Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year falls as a critical time as we are emerging from the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions are continuing to ease.
It is well known that the construction industry has higher levels of both mental health-related problems, and greater stigma around them – something that at Pagabo we are actively seeking to tackle and change. A recent study by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) found that 23 per cent of construction workers are considering leaving the industry in the next 12 months due to poor mental health, so it’s more important than ever that we are taking the wellbeing of our construction workforce seriously.
73 per cent of all construction workers feel that their employers did not understand or recognise the early signs of poor mental health, nor did they feel they offered any support.
The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the nation’s mental health, with government statistics showing that all demographic groups examined have experienced increases in distress after the onset of the pandemic. And, according to research carried out by Mind, more than half of adults (60 per cent) have said that their mental health got worse during lockdown.
These figures demonstrate why we were driven to set up the Pagabo Foundation in 2019 – for us it was a necessity, and it is even more important post-pandemic. There is still such a way to go in improving awareness and access to help, and as an organisation with a large presence within the sector we have brought together a board of trustees from across the industry to work together on tackling these issues head on.
Pagabo Foundation trustee, Christine-Alice Hartigan of Space & Place Architects, said: “Within the construction industry there are many people from all walks of life doing very different jobs, each with their own stresses. There is a necessity to break down barriers and to supply tools to help people have a greater understanding of mental health, within themselves and their employees and colleagues.
“We can embed a positive approach to mental health if we stop and take consideration for others, by acknowledging that everyone has a unique mindset and their own worlds with events taking place, and just allow for humans to be humans. There are so many different skillsets and talents in the industry, so we need to inspire each other. Plus, remembering to look after yourself and your mind is key to managing stress and preventing a lack of wellbeing.
“The Pagabo Foundation is working to help break down these barriers and reduce the stigma attached to mental health within construction through organising events and conducting research to find out what we can do to help.”
As well as the work of the Pagabo Foundation, we are focusing on occupational health and wellbeing under out ‘The Future of Construction’ initiative, under which we are currently running trials to explore the effectiveness of Moodbeam’s innovated wearable wellbeing tool in the workplace. With Moodbeam, we aim to put the power of self-reflection and emotional awareness into everyone’s hands to make mood visible, conversations easier and the world a happier place. The trials are taking place over three months, where participants log how they feel and answer questionnaires about it – and our staff are taking part in this too.
In recent years employers have increasingly woken up to the very real impact of stress and anxiety in the workplace. We want to drive our industry to take huge leaps forward in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and educating as many people as possible as to how and where they can seek the help they might need. Making support and advice as readily available as possible is key to making sure the right support is in place for the people who need it.
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