This weekend marks National Relaxation Day on 15 August 2020. With many in the construction industry, including a recent survey from the Construction Leadership Council, anticipating that employment across the sector will fall by around 10% by September this year, now more than ever is an increasingly important time to ensure good mental health in the workplace.
In a pre-COVID-19 world, reports sadly showed that men working in construction were 35% more likely to commit suicide than the national average. This is partially due to the nature of working in a high-pressured, male-dominated and physically demanding industry. Though many construction workers continued to work during the pandemic, its influence will likely make things worse before they get better in many respects.
There is a multitude of factors and situations which may cause employees working in the construction sector to feel stressed and/or anxious during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, for example:
— Continuing to work throughout the crisis and health and safety concerns;
— Being on furlough or returning to work after several months – may naturally lead people to feel anxious about their role and return to work;
— Juggling childcare responsibilities and worrying about the health of loved ones and/or grieving a loss;
— Increased financial worries with pay-cuts and/or redundancy concerns;
— Finding it difficult to cope with minimal social contact and interactions;
— Less time to relax;
— The list goes on.
Such pressures may cause people to feel anxious or develop and/or contribute to existing mental health conditions such as depression, psychosis or anxiety and which may have a significant impact on their work-life.
What can you do to make a positive difference?
Last month, we were proud to announce our managing partner, Rob Dillarstone, signed the Time to Change Employer pledge on behalf of the firm. The pledge is our commitment to implementing measures that change the way we think and act to support good mental health at every level.
Taking proactive steps such as the Time to Change initiative helps us and other businesses to achieve the Health & Safety at Work Act Mental Health Core Standards. We also reiterate our message that tackling stigmas associated with mental health should not just be treated by employers as a tick-box exercise and the well-known saying “prevention is better than the cure” could not be truer. Instead, our highly-experienced and empathetic Regulatory team spends valuable time meeting key members of your workforce across different levels of seniority to get to the heart of your organisation and understand high-risk areas. We then recommend we produce a bespoke report to include information such as:
— A comprehensive route map of your legal obligations as an employer relating to mental health;
— A diagnostic report outlining high-risk areas for your particular organisation and key areas of concern for the construction sector;
— Suggested initiatives to help improve mental health and well-being in the workplace, for dealing with both individual-employee needs and general business-wide incentives; and
— Advice about how to ensure policies are properly implemented and monitored.
We, therefore, hope you all get on board supporting National Relaxation Day on 15 August 2020 and encourage your employees to do something which helps them to relax and unwind.
If you need help implementing a robust mental health policy and/or defending any claims relating to these issues, please do get in touch with our highly-experienced Regulatory team.