Home » 80%+ of builders experience mental health problems due to work – report

80%+ of builders experience mental health problems due to work – report

by Liam Turner
A stressed-looking construction worker

More than 80% of UK builders experience mental health problems due to work-related issues, a new study has found. 

The research, commissioned for Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May) by IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect, found 73% of builders experience some form of mental health problem, such as stress, anxiety or depression, every month; while 45% feel symptoms every single week.

Further, 92% say they do not feel comfortable talking about their mental health with others, and only 10% have spoken about it with their friends or family.

Across all trades, while financial worries remain among the leading causes of stress, the wider cost-of-living crisis is now the number one concern, with almost two in five (39%) saying it’s affecting their mental health.

Almost two in five (39%) workers are now doing extra shifts as a result, risking burnout.  

The rising cost of materials is now also amongst the main stressors (36%), and tradespeople recently ranked the issue as the biggest challenge facing the industry in 2023. 

In 2023, the most common cause of stress for builders is the cost-of-living crisis (44%).

The top 10 most common causes of stress for tradespeople are: 

  1. Cost-of-living crisis (39%)
  2. Rising cost of materials (36%)
  3. Finances (28%)
  4. Tensions with customers (20%)
  5. Doing the best job you can for customers (17%)
  6. Job security (14%)
  7. Tensions with suppliers (13%)
  8. Risk of catching COVID-19 (12%)
  9. Making mistakes at work (12%)
  10. Too much work (12%) 

Despite the benefits of doing so, more than four in five (84%) tradespeople don’t feel comfortable talking to others about their feelings.

Just one in six (17%) have spoken to friends or family about their mental health. 

Furthermore, one in 10 (10%) worry what their colleagues would think if they told them what they were going through, and more than a quarter (27%) feel they can’t take time off work for mental health reasons.

Builders are the most likely tradespeople to feel stressed or anxious on a daily basis (16%); but overall, mental health problems are most common amongst surveyors.

Almost all of those surveyed, 98% say they experience issues at least once a year. 

The trades that are most and least likely to experience mental health issues at least once a year are: 

  1. Building surveyor (98%)
  2. Carpenter (93%)
  3. Locksmith (92%)
  4. Caretaker (87%)
  5. Electrician (83%)
  6. Builder (82%)
  7. Joiner (80%)
  8. Scaffolder (80%)
  9. Window fabricator (80%)
  10. Plumber (74%)
  11. Landscaper (74%)
  12. Painter decorator (72%) 

As part of their campaign to raise awareness of mental health amongst tradespeople, IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect are partnering with mental health charity Basildon Mind, donating over £5,000.

Emma Mamo, head of Workspace Wellbeing at Mind, said: “In male-dominated industries such as construction, employees are often less willing and able to open up about their mental health and ask for support.

“This can be problematic because mental health problems often become worse if left untreated, and the consequences can be fatal.  

“We urge employers to create cultures where employees can speak openly and honestly about their mental health.”

Dominick Sandford, managing director at IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect, said: “It’s been an incredibly difficult few years for the country, and the current cost-of-living crisis is certainly taking its toll on many people.

“Our research shows that the trade industry and its brilliant people have been hit hard, and mental health problems are common. 

“As difficult as it might seem at first, it’s incredibly important that you talk to someone about your feelings, whether that’s your partner, a friend or family member, a colleague, or a professional.

“This can open the door to getting help and starting to address the problems you’re facing.”

Image credit: KOBE611/Shutterstock

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