There are many examples of 'male dominated' industries and environments, such as construction, civil engineering, mechanics, field based technicians, rail workers, manufacturing, transport and the list goes on.
These industries can be rewarding and varied industries to work in, but they are also where pressures can be high, and people can be more likely than average to experience work-related stress and other mental health issues. Examples of some pressures faced -
The pressure from the main contractor to get finished and under budget.
The tight timeline to complete your part of the work.
The fact you may be self employed and no work means no pay.
The safety guidelines that you must adhere to only slow you down. Time is money, so there is a temptation to cut corners.
The Risk Assessments and Method statements you must produce.
The “laddish” behaviour that can be present on some sites and in some industries.
Societal Expectations - The “It's a man's job, Get on with it and stop crying.”
Travel to and from site daily.
Living away from home.
For employees, it often has not felt easy to come forward, mention that something is wrong or ask a colleague to talk. This is the case in many ‘male dominated’ industries, talking is not the ‘manly’ thing to do..
Men’s Mental Health is a REAL issue.
Men are 3 times more likely than women to die by suicide.
People do not just wake up one day and decide they want to end their life. It is a build up over time, sometimes over years and years. With the right support, these numbers can be reduced significantly.
The Military noticed a similar problem… and managed to implement some changes that resulted in a reduction in the numbers. They took action by introducing TRiM (Trauma Risk Management), which is education and support to identify those with difficulties to ensure the psychological needs of personnel were met. In simple terms, they were given training so they could support their peers and changed the culture around mental health issues.
Things are changing in industry. More and more businesses are starting to see their staff’s mental health as a priority. And with plenty of help, information and training available, it’s easier than ever to put employee mental health and wellbeing at the heart of your organisation.
Five steps to a supportive culture
We at Elite Force Safety, suggest 5 key steps to building a supportive culture around mental health in construction:
Deliver an interactive ‘tool box talk‘ to raise awareness about mental health, teach people to recognise signs that colleagues might need some support, and get conversation started.
Train line managers and supervisors in what to do when somebody mentions a mental health issue.
Train a minimum of one in 100 employees or subcontractors as a certified mental health first aider.
Make, and show, your commitment by having a mental health policy in place for your business.
Make sure your staff knows about your employee assistance programme where to go to for assistance.
It's not enough to just have mental health first aiders or for employees to be trained with a quick online course. A quick online course will give basic knowledge and tick a box, but will it give confidence in dealing with a situation in real life?
There are hundreds of helplines and charities for all mental health issues. If you don't know they exist, how can you signpost and assist someone presenting issues.
Here are a few useful numbers -
• Samaritans helpline - 116 123
• NHS - 111
Crisis Line (if they are already assigned to a healthcare professional)
Text "SHOUT" to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line
To find out more about how we can help you implement a culture change towards Mental Health with one of our programmes, get in touch!
1. Track gratitude and achievement with a journal. Include 3 things you were grateful for and 3 things you were able to accomplish each day.
2. Start your day with a cup of coffee. Coffee consumption is linked to lower rates of depression. If you can’t drink coffee because of the caffeine, try another good-for-you drink like green tea.
3. Set up a getaway. It could be camping with friends or a trip away. The act of planning and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks!
4, Work your strengths. Do something you're good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task.
5. Keep it cool for a good night's sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 15 and 19 degrees celsius.
6. "You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." - Martin Luther King, Jr. Think of something in your life you want to improve, and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction.
7. Experiment with a new recipe, write a poem, paint or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.
8. Show some love to someone in your life. Close, quality, relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.
9. Boost brainpower by treating yourself to a couple pieces of dark chocolate every few days. The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills.
10. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” -Maya Angelou. If you have personal experience with mental illness or recovery, share it.
11. Sometimes, we don't need to add new activities to get more pleasure. We just need to soak up the joy in the ones we've already got. Trying to be optimistic doesn't mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.
12. Feeling anxious? Take a trip down memory lane and do some coloring for about 20 minutes to help you clear your mind. Pick a design that's geometric and a little complicated for the best effect.
13. Take time to laugh. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out cute videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.
14. Go off the grid. Leave your smart phone at home for a day and disconnect from constant emails, alerts, and other interruptions. Spend time doing something fun with someone face-to-face.
15. Dance around while you do your housework. Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body's "feel-good" chemicals).
16. Go ahead and yawn. Studies suggest that yawning helps cool the brain and improves alertness and mental efficiency.
17. Relax in a warm bath once a week. Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.
18. Has something been bothering you? Let it all out…on paper. Writing about upsetting experiences can reduce symptoms of depression.
19. Spend some time with a furry friend. Time with animals lowers the stress hormone - cortisol, and boosts oxytocin - which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, hang out with a friend who does or volunteer at a shelter.
20. “What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.” - Henry David Thoreau. Practice mindfulness by staying "in the present."