More than 2M construction workers off work with stress


Disclaimer: this article includes information that readers may find distressing. Support and resources for mental health can be found below.

More than 2.1 million construction workers in the UK have taken stress-related sick leave, with more than half leaving a job because of it, a new study from the Make Chat Work campaign revealed. 

Though mental health stigma is still an issue in construction, the study found that around 74% of construction workers do talk to their colleagues about problems at work. 

A further 96% of workers said that talking with colleagues helped relieve pressure, and almost all respondents (99%) said that coffee breaks were important for team morale.


Suicide rates among men in the construction industry are triple the national average in the UK, with financial insecurity being a factor in distress. 

The Make Chat Work study affirms the findings found by Construction News’ Mind Matters survey in 2022 that stress is a big aggravator of mental health issues. 

In that study, 59% of workers said that they did not tell their employer that their leave was related to stress, with a further 74% saying there is a stigma around mental health. 

Across industries, mental health and mental health-related sick leave have an annual cost of £53-56 billion in the UK, according to a 2022 Deloitte report of mental health and employers. 

When it comes to the issues with mental health support, change needs to come from the top. Whether it be partnership with charities like the Lighthouse Club, or setting up in-house coffee breaks to give employees the space to talk about their health and wellbeing.

Industry support 

Along with this campaign, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Issues Affecting Men and Boys has asked that construction contracts should have more stringent mental health provisions. 

Make Change Work is a partnership between Nescafé, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the Construction Industry Council (CIC).

FMB is working with the Lighthouse Club as its charity partner to further mental health awareness in the industry.

Looking at its 2022 impact report, the Lighthouse Club has delivered £3.3 million worth of charitable services to the industry. 

These services included: 

  • 1753 face-to-face and virtual counselling sessions. 
  • 173 site visits and engagement with almost 9000 site operatives as part of the ‘Make it Visible on Site’ initiative. 
  • Supporting 1,218 trauma-affected people in need of critical care. 

“Experiencing poor well-being is an everyday reality for thousands of construction workers. Stress, anxiety and depression account for a fifth of all work-related illnesses and every single working day in the UK, two construction workers take their own lives,” said Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Club.  

Mental health support links

More information on the Make Chat Work campaign can be found on the Nestle Professional website.

A 24 hour helpline and text message service is available on the Lighthouse Club page

To get involved with a Big Brew event, visit Band of Builders

Construction Sport offers advice on coping with mental health difficulties here.

You can find more advice about mental health at Mind here

If you found this article helpful, check out Online hub to enforce better mental health strategies.

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