Mates in Mind – The construction industry’s answer to mental ill health

Mates in Mind – The construction industry’s answer to mental ill health

  • Date: Wednesday 1st February 2017

On Thursday 26th January 2017 leaders from across the construction industry gathered to discuss the launch of the industry’s ‘worst kept secret’ Mates in Mind and health in construction.

Steve Hails, Chair of Mates in Mind (MiM), announced the launch of the new MIM website and described how the programme will be rolled out. Steve said ‘In the first year, we intend to engage with 100,000 workers in the industry. We want people in the industry to know it exists and that there are individuals who can provide support and direction for those that are suffering from mental ill health.’

What is MiM and how will it support the industry in tackling mental ill health?

MiM is a sector-wide programme aiming to help improve and promote positive mental health, launched by the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) with the support of the British Safety Council. 


How big is the problem of mental ill health in construction?

· 1 in 4 will experience a mental health problem in any given year (Mind UK)

· A Mind and YouGov poll (2014) found that over half of workers (56 per cent) found their work very or quite stressful

· In construction, employing some 2.1million workers (constituting 6% of the UK workforce), some 350,000 people experience a mental health issue at any one time

· Suicide is the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK, with 76% of all suicides in 2014 being men (ONS, NISRA, GRO 2014)

· Research suggests that in the construction sector, people could be 10 times more likely to die by suicide than from on-site accidents

Why is the problem so prevalent in this sector?

The majority of workers in the construction industry are male and are exposed to stress factors such as: heavy workloads, long working hours, extensive travel, family separation, fear of redundancy and job insecurity. Those with mental health problems are also often overrepresented in high-turnover, low-pay and often part-time or temporary work.

Speaking to SHP at the launch event Mike Robinson CEO of the British Safety Council and Director at Mates in Mind said: “Mental health is something that affects every industry, so why are we starting in construction? Well because there’s a pull from the industry and a desire to build something. And also because construction has got some particular issues. If you look at the demographics and age groups of the workers, it’s mostly male, transient workers, living away from home – it’s got a whole number of issues that tend to drive suicide rates higher. It’s the British safety Council’s desire that once this is working like clockwork we can lift this and take it to other industries.”

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