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Are you tired but wired? You need to talk to somebody

Posted: Friday, September 10th, 2021

Pause, stand up, and look round at your mates.

The sad truth is that some of your colleagues are suffering from some form of mental disorder – it could be stress, depression, anxiety, panic attacks or addiction – but unless you reach out, you’re never going to know.

Or it could be you, who is feeling ‘tired and wired’ and stressed out.

The symptoms will vary, but generally if you find it difficult to get out of bed, struggle to sleep and “your head’s like a washing machine on a rinse cycle,” you should probably seek help said Enda Murphy, cogitative behavioural phycotherapist, on a recent edition of The Clive Holland Show.

National statistics paint an alarming picture of the scale of the construction sector’s mental health crisis. It’s estimated that 500 people in the industry will take their own lives this year.

To put it another way; two people in the industry commit suicide every single working day across the UK and Ireland. So, by next weekend another ten professionals in our sector are expected to have killed themselves.

What is happening in the UK’s construction sector is part of a broader mental health epidemic in the UK and Ireland. 2019 had the highest suicide rate in the last 20 years.

Thankfully, those stats were slightly down in 2020, but males are still three times more likely to take their own lives than females

The common inability of males to express emotion; compounded by the construction sector’s machismo are commonly blamed for the suicide rate.

They are contributing factors, but in an industry populated by small and medium sized businesses, and sole tradespeople, and characterised by small margins and late payments, cash flow is bound to have an exaggerated impact on business performance and mental health.

Research from 2020, by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA), found that 90% of construction bosses have suffered from mental health problems because of late payments.

The total cost of the mental health epidemic on the industry cannot be measured by the number of suicides alone.

There are thousands of people suffering every day from stress, depression and anxiety.

To give you an idea of the scale of the issues, in 2018 it was estimated the sector lost 400,000 working days to mental health issues – over half of all days lost that year.

Mates in Mind is looking to build a better understanding of the impact of mental health on sole tradespeople and small construction firms.

In conjunction with the Institute of Employment Studies it launched a survey in September aimed at gathering data about how ‘micro’ construction workers manage mental health issues and their support networks. The report is due at the end of the year.

The good news is that the first steps towards recovery are simple. Reach out and talk to somebody. A friend, a partner, a colleague, perhaps even stranger. It’s a cliché, but a problem shared, is a problem halved.

It sounds easy, but we all need to need to be brave – either brave enough to ask after your mate, or perhpas brave enough to reach out and ask for some help yourself.

You can only fix a problem when you start working on it.

There are more and more industry forums to help, the most well-known being The Lighthouse Club’s Construction Industry Helpline. 

Band of Builders is starting its Big Brew events from October to bring people together and chat openly about issues surrounding mental health.

There loads of people have been where you are now and there are plenty of people available to talk with. If you are feeling anxious or depressed here are some charities that you can reach out too.


Tel: 0300 123 3393


Mates in Mind

020 3510 5018



Tel: 116 123


0300 304 7000 between 4.30pm and 10.30 pm

Lighthouse Club 0345 605 1956



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