Mental health campaign brings ‘greater’ visibility to construction sites

Balfour Beatty, Ford and construction industry charity Lighthouse Club have launched a campaign to make support for mental health more visible on construction sites, using distinctive vehicles and special vests for staff .

The Make it Visible campaign provides mental health experts at the Lighthouse Club with specialized vans to travel to construction sites. They also received specially designed high visibility jackets to wear when visiting the sites.

The initiative, launched this week, was tested on a Balfour Beatty site.

According to Ford, their vehicles account for nearly one in three new commercial vehicles sold in the UK and Ireland in 2021, with a potentially higher percentage in the construction industry. He plans to use this industry access to help more workers with resources for their wellness and mental health.

Lighthouse Club chief executive Bill Hill said the charity’s in-house team will be among the support staff visiting the venues.

“These highly recognizable vans will visit sites across the country to provide visible support to the field workforce. The vehicles are piloted by the Lighthouse Club on-site team, all of whom are mental health first aiders with relevant experience in the construction industry. I am convinced that this initiative will have a positive impact on the well-being of the workforce and ultimately save lives. »

Balfour Beatty’s director of health, safety, environment and sustainability, Heather Bryant, says the industry’s treatment of mental health is akin to health’s ‘poor cousin’ physical.

She added: “We need to change this incredibly outdated perception – and, at Balfour Beatty, we continue to lead the charge.”

Construction workers are 3.4 times more likely to commit suicide than workers in other jobs.

According to data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), suicides among unskilled construction workers hit the highest record for a decade in 2020, when 94 workers died. Skilled construction has seen a slight drop in suicides, but still has the highest fatality rate of any other ONS occupational category.

A major problem in reaching the construction industry with the message of mental health support has been the vastness of the supply chain and the difficulty of reaching those at the very bottom of it.

Alice F. Ponder