Men's Health Awareness Month
November is ‘Men's Health Awareness Month’, with Saturday 19 in particular designated ‘International Men’s Day’.
Campaigns like ‘Movember’ have done much to raise awareness of the fact that men are less likely to talk about or seek mental health support.
And this can result in tragic (and often avoidable) consequences such as hospitalisation, ruined relationships or even suicide.
Our industry in particular turns up some alarming statistics on men’s mental health.
For example, a recent study found the suicide rate for men working in construction is three times the national average.
This survey was conducted by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC).
And with men in the sector more likely to die from suicide than by a fall from height - we must do what we can to highlight this issue.
CICES and mental wellbeing
Mental health struggles can cover much more than suicidal thoughts and men may need to access support with issues including:
- Anxiety and depression
- Addiction and substance misuse
- LGBTQ+ related issues
- Financial matters
- Self harm
Plus many other areas that might be considered hopeless, shameful or embarrassing.
Not knowing help is available and others may be facing similar challenges can lead many men to become overwhelmed.
Within CICES, our Mental health and wellbeing policy signposts several resources for people suffering without the support they need.
At our head offices, more than one member of staff is fully trained as a mental health first aider.
And we’re continuing to develop our active learning about emerging issues such as:
- The longer term effects of the global pandemic on mental health in the workplace
- Neurodiversity at work and how differences in experience or perception can be accommodated and even celebrated
By better understanding how to offer more holistic support, we can lessen the likelihood of someone feeling discouraged from joining our institution.
And the more diverse our membership, the more representative our panels, committees and outputs will ultimately be.
What can you do?
Absenteeism due to mental health is high - one third of construction workers suffer from elevated anxiety and almost half have taken time off due to stress.
So even if you haven’t been affected by such challenges, it’s likely you work with someone who has.
But our industry is taking the lead in establishing best practice processes to support staff:
- Wates Construction’s ‘Take a minute’ campaign encourages colleagues to start conversations around suicide for those who need
- Skanska (home of Survey Liaison Group chair, Mark Lawton), has been working closely with Mental Health First Aid England since 2016
- Balfour Beatty has teamed with Ford Motors and the Lighthouse Club charity for the ‘Make it visible’ suicide prevention campaign
And many other initiatives are in place and being developed at organisations throughout the UK and Ireland.
It’s important to understand - not just during November - that support is available.
CICES president Andy Evans highlighted this for those struggling with mental health (or unsure how to help those who are), saying:
‘It may sound brutal - but however you may be feeling, the world will never be better off without you.
‘That’s why it’s crucial that CICES members can be approached by colleagues who need to talk at critical times.
‘If you’re not confident about how to listen, talk to your employer about mental health training.
‘And if you’re reading this and struggling, please be assured you’re not alone and help is available.’
Further useful online resources and phone numbers can be found in the current CICES Mental health and wellbeing policy.
For more information on International Men’s Day, see InternationalMensDay.com.