The importance of self-care within the construction and building industry has been highlighted to help raise awareness of World Mental Health Day.

World Mental Health Day, an annual awareness campaign on 10 October, aims to support good mental health in the workplace, as well as to provide global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.

The University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) has investigated mental health attitudes amongst construction workers and published their findings in The Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology.

Work-Life Balance

Assessing the work-life balance of construction workers (including those who work in the self build sector) in the UK, lead author Yasuhiro Kotera, Academic Lead in Counselling, Psychotherapy and Psychology at UDOL, looked at how this affected their mental health.

Kotera and colleagues found that work-life balance (WLB) was strongly related to construction workers’ mental health. Those with a better balance were not only more likely to have improved mental health, but also possess more understanding about mental health issues. 

Construction workers who possessed negative attitude towards mental health attitudes were more likely to experience exacerbated mental health problems. A total of 30% of workers were found to have taken time off from work due to mental health problems, but 60% felt unable to tell their boss the reason for the absence. The majority reported feeling shame.

A quarter of construction workers had considered suicide, and 90% of workers who experienced suicidal thoughts did not ask for support. 

Importance of Self-Care

The findings emphasise the need for construction workers to be kinder to themselves and use more self-compassion, the researchers say.

One particularly harmful concept with the construction industry is known as the ‘walk of shame’, which workers may experience when they leave the office or site early due to personal reasons. 

“Our next step is to investigate how construction workers can be offered support based on these findings. Allowing themselves to be more supportive of themselves is really important. We hope that our findings and future sessions will help improve their mental health and WLB for the industry,” said the researchers.

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