IN 2019, CHRIS, a 30-year veteran of the construction industry, suffered a mental health crisis brought on by severe stress.
The caring and loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend developed stress at a rapid speed and it had catastrophic consequences.
With Chris’s family and friends, this Stress Awareness Month, mental health charity Mates in Mind will be sharing ‘Chris’s Story’ in a short film. The film is designed to raise awareness of the very real impact that workplace stress can have. It is hoped the film will also create an understanding of the importance of recognising the signs that someone might be struggling.
Michelle, Chris’s wife said: “Chris’s death has left us as a family with extreme heartache and unbelievable grief and we know nothing will bring Chris back. But we hope by sharing his story we can save other families from this devastation. Chris never experienced any mental health illness previously so we can’t emphasise enough if it can happen to him it can happen to anyone.”
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in the UK alone, there were over 828,000 workers suffering from work related stress, depression or anxiety (new or long-standing) in 2019/20, which resulted in around 17.9 million working days lost.
Workplace Stress Leadership
James Rudoni, Managing Director of Mates in Mind said: “Chris’s story sends a clear message that only with the support and commitment of leaders in the construction industry can we address stress in the workplace, transforming the overall mental health of workforces and ensuring a meaningful change.
“We know that there needs to be more awareness and effective management of stress risks in the workplace. Enabling people to open up conversations about mental health while providing them with the awareness and education to discuss the topic, continues to be the most immediate and effective starting point for improving mental health.
“Together we can help develop open working environments where the stigma and silence around the topic can be eliminated. And that is exactly what we aim to do this Stress Awareness Month.”
For construction, the negative impact of the pandemic has added to an already pervasive mental health challenge in the industry. The Office for National Statistics reports, the suicide rate among construction workers is three times the national average for men. This equates to more than two construction workers taking their own life every day.
This Stress Awareness Month, Mates in Mind will be asking construction organisations to commit to long term change to ensure healthier workplace environments for employees and to help change the wider industry culture around workplace stress. Just one small step, such as an annual stress risk assessment, can help organisations to identify work-related stress risks within their company and help them meet their duty of care in the identification and mitigation of work-related stress.
Stress Awareness Month
The charity is also encouraging organisations to use this month as an opportunity to open vital conversations about stress at work. To encourage an open and honest dialogue with staff, the charity is providing free training and resources.
Understanding the importance of managing and reducing workplace stress has arguably never been more important than now. In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are beginning to focus on returning to work and supporting their teams as they adjust to new ways of working.
Employers are recognising that providing a mentally healthy workplaces is a necessity and not a luxury for the way we work today. There is no health without mental health.
View ‘Chris’s Story’
TRIGGER WARNING: Please note, the following video includes mention of suicide and may be upsetting to some viewers.