Two people working in construction in the UK die by suicide every day. Over 700 per year.

In addition, research reports that of construction workers in the last year;

  • 48% had taken time off work owing to unmanageable stress
  • 91% felt overwhelmed
  • 26% have experienced suicidal thoughts

There are lots of reasons given for why the construction industry is experiencing a mental health crisis with long hours and time away from home, job insecurity and lack of support from employers being cited. With just 14% of construction jobs being held by women, it is also a very male-dominated industry and we know that men are still taught from a very early age that they should not talk about their feelings or ask for help.

The Building Mental Health (BMH) programme was created in response to a growing awareness of the mental health crisis in the industry and they set about changing that with funding from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

I remember speaking to Bill Hill, Chief Executive of the Lighthouse Club charity about the BMH programme on day three of arriving at MHFA England. I still hadn’t found the photocopier and I hadn’t yet been briefed on the programme. I knew very little about the state of workplace mental health let alone mental health in the construction industry. I remember coming off the call with Bill and having to take a few minutes to process what I had just heard.

Two people in the construction industry die by suicide, every single day.

Over the coming weeks I met BMH founder Martin Coyd - whose enthusiasm and commitment to tackling the mental health crisis in the sector is boundless and borderless. Under the tutelage of MHFA England Instructor Member Jaan Madan and former MHFA England Client Relationship Manager, Nicola Chamberlain, I then went on to speak at a BMH event. There I met many more people like Martin and Bill, absolutely committed to breaking the silence and determined to create change.

Fast forward two and a half years to this week, and the partnership has published its Social Value Report on the Mental Health First Aid programme.

£1 million has been invested in the programme and the quantifiable social value from delegates who have taken part in mental health awareness, Mental Health First Aid and MHFA England Instructor training is over £5.5 million. That is £5.50 of social value for every £1 invested, which is similar to the return on investment that Deloitte identified for workplace investment in mental health.

What that figure cannot quantify is the unquantifiable value of preventing deaths by suicide and saving lives, which is what this innovative partnership is all about.

I am proud of the part that MHFA England has played in this programme and grateful for the opportunity to be involved. I want to pay enormous tribute to the many people involved in creating, demanding and delivering the BMH programme’s aim to create a freely available, industry-wide framework and charter to tackle the mental health crisis in the construction industry. It is a real demonstration of what can be done when people work together.

As American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said,

‘never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has’.

The BMH Social Value Report shows again that we need bold, ambitious and fearless programmes where people work together to tackle stigma, to break the silence, to change lives and to save lives.

To find out more about how we can support the construction industry with our workplace mental health expertise and evidence-based training, contact our team