?BESA (the Building Engineering Services Association) has urged employers to face up to the growing risk of suicide in construction related professions.
The association referenced a new report from the mental health charity Samaritans highlighting the vulnerability of people with unstable employment, low income or in areas of socio-economic deprivation.
BESA also drew attention to the Mates in Mind initiative, launched last month by the Health in Construction Leadership Group with the support of the British Safety Council, which pointed out that the number of deaths from suicide in construction related professions is up to 10 times higher than those from physical accidents.
One in six people experience a mental health issue in the workplace and 91 million working days are lost each year to stress and depression at a cost of £26bn to employers, according to the Centre for Mental Health.
The Samaritans report ‘Dying from Inequality’, highlights suicide risks linked to the closure and downsizing of businesses and the vulnerability of people in manual, low-skilled employment as well as those facing unmanageable debt.
BESA has announced plans to raise awareness of the issue and to help its members put strategies in place for dealing with mental health problems among their workforces. It launched a partnership with Samaritans following a joint mental health workshop in London last year; and has now agreed to step up an information campaign and develop training packages.
BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin said: “Our industry has a problem with mental health and it is vital that employers and work colleagues create a culture where people feel it is OK to talk about depression and stress.
“This predominately male and so-called ‘macho’ industry can make it hard for people to open up about their feelings, which means depression can spiral out of control. If we achieve nothing else, let’s at least aim to get a dialogue going and encourage engineers to be better listeners.”
Samaritans ceo Ruth Sutherland said: ““Everyone can feel overwhelmed at times in their life. People at risk of suicide may have employers, or they may seek help at job centres, or go to their GP. They may come into contact with national and local government agencies, perhaps on a daily basis.
“So, in light of this report we are asking key people and organisations from across society to take action and make sure their service, their organisation, their community is doing all it can to promote mental health and prevent the tragedy of suicide.”
Anyone can contact Samaritans at any time and from any phone on 116 123. The number is free and will not appear on phone bills.
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