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How our industry is tackling mental health awareness

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (13 - 19 May) and it aims to make us all more and more aware of how poor mental health can affect anyone, in their own way, at any time and in any situation.

The NHS characterises a person’s mental health as their emotional, psychological and social wellbeing and it impacts how we think, feel and act.

As our society evolves we are all becoming more and more aware of the benefits of improving awareness and the opportunities for prevention.

Today positive employment environments and practices can ensure the improved emotional, psychological and social wellbeing health of employees and thankfully the housebuilding sector are showing a real commitment to investing resources into ensuring that the work environment is supportive of this issue.

And the benefits of doing so are clear as evidence has always shown that positive mental health practices can improve both the physically and mentally health of not only employees but their families also and for the employer they see the benefit of increased productivity, and reduced sickness.

So, what is the housebuilding sector doing to tackle the issue?

According to Building Mental Health, an initiative ​led by industry experts which provides support and advice to increase ​awareness of mental health in the construction industry; two construction workers take their own life every working day.

Indeed, The Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that between 2011 and 2015 the construction sector had the highest number of recorded in-work suicides of any industrial sector.

​Stress, anxiety, depression and serious mental illness can cause so many potential symptoms, from increasing tardiness and absenteeism to diminishing self-confidence and productivity.

But change is certainly happening as more housebuilders construction companies sign up to the Building Mental Health Charter to show their support to the portal offering expert advice on improving corporate mental health culture.

​The Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) which comprises of contractors, clients, the Health and Safety Executive, professional bodies, trade associations and trade unions and whose role is to encourages construction employers to have in place a mental health programme is working with Mates in Mind to develop an industry-wide framework and programme for construction employers to adopt in order to achieve this.

Mates in Mind aims to raise awareness, address the stigma of poor mental health and improve positive mental wellbeing in construction and related industries across the UK and it is led by and for the industry in partnership with the Health in Construction Leadership Group and British Safety Council, as well as with other leading organisations and charities such as Mind, Samaritans and Mental Health First Aid England.