UK: UCATT finds high levels of stress and mental illness among construction workers

A survey amongst construction worker members of UCATT has revealed very real concerns about the prevalence of mental health problems in the industry. 

The results of the survey which was published today (Monday 16th May) at UCATT’s conference found that 64% said they are suffering from stress and a huge 76% said they had at some point suffered stress in the workplace. 30% of respondents have taken time off work due to stress. And of those, 93% did not tell UCATT about it. This is something we now hope to change. 

Brian Rye, UCATT Acting General Secretary, said: “Governments may not take too much notice of stress in the workplace but UCATT does. What this survey shows us is that we have a significant issue affecting thousands of us in our daily lives, and which degrades our lives to such an extent we take time off work.” And yet, it is an issue which is kept largely secret, is never addressed at work, and in many cases is suffered in painful silence. 

With regards to mental health, 35% of respondents said that they were suffering from a mental illness or had suffered from a mental illness. Of these members 44% had time off due to mental health issues but 75% had not raised their problems with management. In total 57% of respondents said their workplace had no interest in their mental health. 

Mr Rye added: “UCATT’s aim is to bring the discussion of mental health in the construction industry into the foreground. Our members’ mental health is just as important to us as their physical wellbeing. The taboo of not talking about depression and anxiety needs to be addressed – for everyone’s health and safety. Let’s change our industry and our society for the better.” 

The two main mental health areas that caused our members most pain were depression and anxiety. 75% had experienced depression and 58% anxiety. These are both common throughout society – and are treatable. Talking to someone can begin the healing process. 

72% of respondents said they mentioned absolutely nothing to anyone at work about their problems.  It is also apparent that workers are increasingly isolated. We asked our members if they had at least one close friend. 81% said yes, but 19% said no. Almost a fifth had no one that they could confide in outside of their partner. That’s one key avenue of communication that these members don’t have when dealing with mental health concerns. 

Luciana Berger MP, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, said: “I am delighted to join UCATT at their annual conference prior to the release of their important Health and Wellbeing Survey results. This report will provide some crucial insight into workforce wellbeing in the construction sector. It is excellent to see UCATT taking the mental health of its members so seriously.”

UCATT is making concerted moves to bring mental health out of the shadows because as we feared many of our members may have issues that are blighting their lives.