Mates in Mind: The impact of mental health in construction

Organisations that prioritise mental health see a 23% increase in employee productivity, according to Deloitte.
The construction industry grapples with a pervasive issue that poses a significant challenge to both workers and businesses alike: Mental health

Trigger warning: mentions of suicide

As stress levels surge and mental well-being declines among professionals, it becomes imperative for construction companies to address these issues and recognise that doing so is in fact mutually beneficial for people as well as businesses.

Analysing the advantages of prioritising mental health

The construction industry bears a heavy burden when it comes to mental health challenges. Startling statistics reveal the urgency of addressing this issue. According to a study conducted by mental health in construction charity Mates in Mind, two construction workers tragically take their own lives each working day. 

Furthermore, the study found that an overwhelming 48% of construction professionals have taken time off work due to unmanageable stress, and a staggering 91% have experienced feelings of being overwhelmed.

Perhaps most distressing is the fact that 26% have contemplated suicide.

Enhanced Productivity and Performance

Investing in the mental well-being of employees can yield greater happiness and fulfilment for people, as well as significant returns in terms of productivity and overall performance. Studies consistently demonstrate that when individuals are mentally healthy, they are happier, more engaged, focused, and productive. By creating a supportive work environment, businesses can foster a motivated workforce that is better equipped to handle challenges and deliver high-quality results.

Research shows that workers with positive mental health are 12% more productive than their counterparts who struggle with mental health issues (Oswald et al., 2015).

Organisations that prioritise mental health see a 23% increase in employee productivity (Deloitte, 2020).

Active engagement

Mental health problems often lead to increased absenteeism and presenteeism, (where employees show up to work but are unable to perform at their best due to mental distress). Addressing these issues can significantly minimise the negative impact on mental health and simultaneously on business operations.

Mental health conditions account for approximately 70 million days off sick per year in the UK, resulting in a substantial cost of £70bn to £100bn annually (National Building Specification).

Implementing mental health initiatives can reduce absenteeism rates by 25% and decrease presenteeism by 40% (World Economic Forum, 2021).

Improved Recruitment and Retention

In an industry facing a persistent labour shortage, prioritising mental health can help attract and retain top talent. A supportive and mentally healthy work environment becomes an appealing factor for job seekers, contributing to improved recruitment outcomes and reduced turnover rates.

A study by Randstad US found that 77% of workers consider a company's mental health support when evaluating job offers (Randstad US, 2021).

Organisations with strong mental health programs experience a 28% increase in employee loyalty and retention (Mind Share Partners, 2019).

Mitigated Safety Risks

Mental health issues can significantly impact safety on construction sites, as impaired focus and decision-making can lead to accidents and injuries. By prioritising mental well-being, companies can foster a safer work environment and reduce the potential risks associated with compromised mental health.

A study by the Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) identified a clear link between mental health issues and increased accident rates (CIRIA, 2020).

Businesses that invest in mental health initiatives witness a 38% reduction in safety incidents (Mental Health America, 2019).

Mental Health: A socio-economic issue

The construction industry must recognise that prioritising mental health is both a matter of social responsibility, as well as a strategic imperative for sustainable business success. The statistics and facts presented paint a sobering picture of the impact of mental health issues on construction professionals.

However, by taking proactive steps to address and eliminate these problems, businesses can unlock numerous advantages that extend beyond the well-being of their employees.

Investing in mental health initiatives can yield tangible results.

Enhanced productivity, improved performance, and increased employee engagement are just some of the positive outcomes that businesses can expect. Studies consistently demonstrate that mentally healthy employees are more focused, resilient, and capable of delivering high-quality work. This, in turn, positively impacts project timelines, client satisfaction, and overall profitability.

Furthermore, prioritising mental health reduces absenteeism and presenteeism, mitigating the costs associated with lost productivity and decreased performance.

By fostering a supportive work environment where mental well-being is valued and supported, businesses can create a culture where employees feel comfortable seeking help when needed, reducing the negative impact of mental health challenges on their professional lives.

In a competitive industry facing a labour shortage, organisations that prioritise mental health gain a competitive edge in attracting and retaining top talent. Job seekers increasingly consider mental health support as a critical factor when evaluating potential employers.

By demonstrating a commitment to employee well-being, businesses can position themselves as employers of choice, fostering loyalty and long-term commitment from their workforce. Moreover, addressing mental health issues directly contributes to a safer work environment. Impaired mental health can compromise focus, decision-making, and situational awareness, increasing the likelihood of accidents and injuries on construction sites.

By creating a mentally healthy workplace, organisations can minimise safety risks, reduce incidents, and protect the well-being of their employees.

Prioritising mental health in the construction industry is not only the right thing to do; it is a strategic decision that positively impacts the bottom line. By acknowledging the pressing need to eliminate mental health problems and implementing comprehensive support systems, businesses can create a thriving work environment where employees feel valued, motivated, and empowered.

Together, we can forge a construction industry that not only constructs buildings but also supports the mental well-being of its most valuable asset: its people.


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