It is fair to say mental health awareness week hit us all a bit differently this year. For some, working from home or taking on home-schooling responsibilities has added significantly to our worries and stress. For many of us in the construction industry, the work hasn’t stopped and instead we have faced a different set of challenges.
In May, FACT delivered a toolbox talk with a twist. Building on our existing mental health awareness site talk, we explored the ways in which COVID-19 continues to impact our lives, and took a look at some resources we can all share with colleagues to help each other through this time and beyond.
Using the ‘stress bucket’ exercise from the Mental Health First Aid 2-day course, plus a myth-busting quiz, the site team worked together to visualise how the pandemic is affecting both our stress levels and our coping mechanisms.
First, we listed the factors that contribute to our stress on a ‘normal’ day, pre-COVID: money, health, work, to name a few. We then talked through our coping strategies, including exercise, socialising, heading to the pub on a Friday night etc.
For the majority of us, the volume of or ‘stress bucket’ can be relieved by turning the ‘valve’ (our ways of coping).
Using the same bucket but adjusting for COVID, we could visualise the toll that the crisis is taking. With furlough and redundancies affecting almost every family in some way, suddenly our money worries take up much more of the bucket. The health of our family becomes a bigger strain, especially for on-site teams still travelling to busy sites.
On top of this, a number of our coping mechanisms have disappeared or been restricted. A pint in the pub is off the table, the gym is closed and exercise is limited, the possibility of seeing friends ended overnight. For some, the bucket is now getting very full. Perhaps someone in your team seems a bit withdrawn today. Maybe someone else snapped at you over a seemingly small mistake. Another person might seem absolutely fine, or just more tired than usual.
The impact on each individual is unique, and of course each of us copes with stress in a different way. It is for this reason that a sense of community in the construction industry is more important than ever. By recognising this and by understanding that we all cope differently, we can give each other the support we need to make it through.
Suicide is still the biggest killer of men under 45, with the construction industry disproportionately affected. You can find a list of useful resources to use yourself, or to signpost to colleagues in the list below.
Information and advice on a range of mental health problems and coping with problems like depression and anxiety.
020 8519 2122
0300 123 3393 (helpline)
Frontline services and campaigns around the prevention of suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the cause of 18 deaths every day.
0800 58 58 58 (helpline)
Helpline open 5pm – midnight, 365 days a year
24/7 helpline for a range of issues including mental health and well-being.
116 123 (helpline open 24/7)
Lighthouse Club https://www.lighthouseclub.org/
Provides a 24/7 helpline to the construction industry’s workforce and their families in the UK and Ireland.
0345 605 1956 (helpline open 24/7)
Support for male victims of domestic abuse and domestic violence.
01823 334 244
National Domestic Violence Helpline http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/
Helpline for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.
0808 2000 247
National Association for People Abused in Childhood. They are a registered UK charity providing support and information for people abused in childhood.
0203 096 7645
0808 801 0331 (helpline)
Citizens Advice http://https//www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
The Citizens Advice service provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities, equality and challenges.
03000 231 231
03444 111 444 (helpline)
Change Grow Live http://https//www.changegrowlive.org
Variety of services including: Substance misuse, family services, accommodation and homelessness, clinical services and criminal justice.
Counselling Ltd http://www.counselling.ltd.uk/
Maintains a list of private counsellors throughout the UK who offer free counselling to those on income support/guaranteed minimum income.
NHS Counselling http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Counselling/
Info on types of counselling, how a counsellor can help, speaking to your GP and what to expect.
The mental health charity CALM have also launched this handy blocker, which filters out mentions of COVID-19 in your internet searches, for when you need to take a step away from it all. https://www.thecalmzone.net/calm-covid-blocker-enjoy-a-moment-of-calm/
Finally, our bespoke toolbox talk is open to all of our clients – get in touch with the team to book yours.