Mental health in our industry

The lockdown period during the Coronavirus outbreak has put tremendous strain on a number of industries, including the building sector. Whether you’re an engineer for a large contractor or you are self-employed, the uncertainty over whether you have enough income to support yourself and your family will make this a very stressful time. Financial difficulties can play a significant role in the deterioration of a person’s mental state of mind and things can escalate quickly if the appropriate help is not available when needed.

It is not just the financial pressure, however, that can affect people. Getting up and going to work each day gives us a purpose, it keeps us motivated and our minds active. Losing that focus is not always easy to deal with and can open up mental health issues that were perhaps being kept at bay by regular work. But mental health issues can affect us at any time, whether at work or at home, and it can sometimes be difficult for a person dealing with them to admit they need help. Some may not even be aware of it, while friends, family and colleagues might be aware but are uncomfortable about discussing it with the individual.

According to the ‘Mind’ charity, approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health issue each year, and they can come in various forms, including anxiety, depression, addiction, fear, paranoia and anger. These are extremely difficult things for anybody to deal with alone, so it is vital that they are made to feel comfortable in talking about it with someone.

We work in a vibrant and rewarding sector, but it comes with its own pressures and perhaps, historically, a somewhat stereotypical ‘macho’ image, making it harder for employees to talk about any difficulties they are having, whether it’s with a boss, a colleague or family member. Thankfully, times are changing and the awareness around mental health is on the rise, thanks to charities like Mind and the World Health Organisation. There is still plenty of work to do of course and during my term as BCIA President I will aim to help promote the message that “it is okay to not be okay’. I will revisit this subject in future blogs to ensure that we as an industry are ready and prepared to help people ease whatever troubles they may be going through.

Terry Sharp

BCIA President