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Given that stress is so common, it’s strange that many of us only have a vague idea of what stress is and how it affects us in our daily life. Stress is defined as a 'state of worry or tension which can be triggered by a difficult situation' (source: World Stress Organisation), and is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. 

The way we respond to stress however, makes a big difference to our overall wellbeing. Stress affects both the mind and the body. A little bit of stress is good and can help us perform daily activities. Too much stress can, in some cases, cause physical and mental health problems.

Why is stress a problem in the construction industry? 

In construction, both on and off-the-job factors can cause unwanted stress and anxiety for workers. The top causes of stress in the construction industry include intense workloads, tight deadlines, money worries and working in isolation, as well as physical factors such as noise levels, inadequate temperature control and uncertainty of working location. 

Nearly half (48%*) of construction workers have admitted to taking time off work due to unmanageable stress.

Being aware when we're experiencing stress, or recognising when it's affecting someone around us is important, as it's the first step towards feeling better. In fact, allowing stress to go untreated can lead to more mental strain. 

It is important for employers and individuals to know just how important mental health awareness and support are to workers and the statistic above highlights how needed the change is within the industry. When all workers can access support, without fear of stigma ultimately lives will be saved.

Long periods of stress may have a major impact on people's mental health, and the inability to talk about and be honest about these feelings can lead to further difficulties for those who are struggling. 

In 2022, suicide rates among construction workers were more than three times higher than in other industries, with roughly a fifth of workers having suicidal thoughts and two construction workers dying by suicide every day, a rate which is twice as high as in other jobs.**

Working on a building site has now become the deadliest profession in the UK and it has nothing to do with cranes or ladders.

Many also feel that the industry has become more stressful over the last five years due to more pressure on the industry from the government and subsequently, its workers. Add to this the strain of Covid-19 over the last two years, Brexit and the recent UK cost of living crisis it's easy to see why the industry and its workers are stressed. 

What are some of the symptoms of stress? 

The way we experience stress depends on the kind of people we are and the situations we’re in. This means it’s not particularly straightforward to identify.

Recognizing these stress signals might help you prevent more stress and strain on your mental health. 

Everyone’s different, but here are some common stress symptoms to look out for: 

  • Unusual or negative moods
  • Indecisiveness, restlessness and poor judgement
  • Withdrawal from friends and colleagues
  • Irritability, angry or emotional outbursts and loss of humour
  • Overworking and a drop in performance
  • More sick leave or coming to work when ill

Where can I find support for stress? 

The Lighthouse Club has launched a free Construction Industry Help App, offering information and advice on how to stay mentally healthy, or if necessary, to find professional help before problems become critical. They also run a free and confidential Construction Industry Helpline giving 24-hour mental health advice, as well as many other areas. 

Building Mental Health is a group of volunteers from the construction industry who pull together thinking and information about mental health and provide online resources to help if needed. 

Mates in Mind: if you or someone you know needs help or support, you can speak to one of their many free, confidential support services. You can also use the "BeAMate" text support service. To use the service, simply text “BeAMate” to 85258 and trained volunteers can help with issues including anxiety, stress, loneliness or depression and are available 24/7. 

Mind mental health charity also offers a helpline along with crisis and emergency resources for those who are having suicidal thoughts or simply struggling with their mental health. 

https://bit.ly/41zJGtB 
** https://bit.ly/41Tb1qe 

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