New figures that reveal 10% of construction workers rate their mental health as poor show that the sector must do more to combat what is a growing challenge within the industry.

That’s the view of Emma Gilbert, Sales Order Processing Coordinator and Mental Wellness Champion of leading specialist external brick cladding systems supplier Aquarian Cladding Systems.

Research conducted by Constructing Excellence South West (CESW), a member led organisation designed to drive change in construction, and Red Dot 365 explored the current state of construction worker’s overall wellbeing for the first time.

The 10% figure is two and a half times more than the national average (3.5%) which highlights how mental health is a huge challenge in the sector.

The study also uncovered that stress is a big concern as almost two thirds (62%) of workers admitted to feeling stressed and 57% shared they were looking to find a way to feel less stressed day-to-day.

“CESW’s study has provided some really eye-opening stats and one in 10 construction workers in the South West admitting to poor mental health is hugely worrying,” said Emma.

“We know that one in four people will encounter a mental health difficulty at some point and working conditions and the working environment can have a huge impact on this.”

“The findings could be down to poor working conditions, the macho nature of the sector to just ‘man up and get on with it,’ a low paid environment, or the culture of working long hours, all of which can cause stress, depression or anxiety. Solutions need to be put in place to tackle these issues.”

To increase staff awareness of mental health and to create a culture that nurtures it Aquarian Cladding, which has been a member of CESW for over seven years, appointed Emma as its Mental Wellness Champion during the challenging lockdown period.

“The mental health awareness training and workshops have really developed my skills and has allowed me to offer help and support to colleagues and to promote mental health awareness,” said Emma of her additional role.

“The outcome of being in doors for two years has really brought mental health into focus and we were aware that working in isolation and being detached from the world can have a very negative effect on mental wellbeing, so creating a supportive environment for our employees and providing an opportunity for wellbeing and mental health to become part of casual conversation in the workplace has been our priority.”

The result of Aquarian’s approach to HR shows fewer days of staff sickness and improved productivity. Julian Venus, the company’s Business Development Director, said: “Our staff are primary assets to the business so it’s important they know they can get the right support from us if they need it. Emma’s role has increased our commitment to mental wellbeing in the workplace and it means we can continue to look after and support each other as the company grows”

As key distributors of Gebrik, MechSlip and NaturAL-X, Aquarian Cladding Systems is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of brick cladding systems. Working with architects, contractors, developers and installation specialists, Aquarian’s cladding systems have been used on many award-winning buildings across a wide range of sectors. For more information, call 0808 223 9080, or visit https://www.aquariancladding.co.uk/