Mental ill health costs the sector billions annually, report finds

On The Tools Shoot

On The Tools’ new report has revealed that absenteeism due to mental ill health is costing the construction industry almost £2.75 billion annually.

The research found that two out of three UK tradespeople surveyed have missed time at work due to mental ill health, with 13.02% of tradespeople missing over one month of work in the last year.

The report, Behind the High-Vis: a Mental Health White Paper, uncovered that seven in 10 UK tradespeople (69%) also reported experiencing low motivation as a symptom of their mental ill health.

More glaringly, the study also found that 93% of UK tradespeople have been impacted by mental ill health in some way, with 73% of all UK tradespeople surveyed experiencing mental ill health right now or in the past.

A further 20% hadn’t personally experienced mental ill health but knew another tradesperson who had.

A duty of care

While businesses do have a legal obligation to protect their workers’ mental and physical wellbeing: a “duty of care”, most UK tradespeople felt unsupported by their workplace when they were experiencing mental ill health.

The white paper makes a number of recommendations around how businesses can better support tradespeople experiencing mental ill health, including provision of counselling services, or making mental health first aiders available.

Forty-one percent of all UK tradespeople surveyed reported that they would find the provision of free counselling by their workplace to be a helpful system to support them when they experience mental ill health.

“Openly talking”

One survey participant said: “I think over the past two to three years there has been a reduction in the stigma. A lot more tradespeople are openly talking. There has been a lot more support from companies who are employing mental health nurses in addition to tradespeople.

“They’ll train somebody up, basically, within the organisation. If this was widespread, the situation would probably improve. It’s a gateway – an offering, so people can talk if they want to.”

Lee Wilcox, CEO and co-founder of On The Tools, said: “This report proves, among other things, that untreated mental ill health has cost the UK a healthy and motivated construction industry workforce. The scale of this issue is now too pressing for the UK Government to ignore. We hope that the findings and recommendations of this report can enact real change and improve the health of our tradespeople.”

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