Banner artwork highlights construction suicides

Mental Health Awareness Week
The banner is installed in London to mark Mental Health Awareness Week

A poignant art installation has been erected in London to mark Mental Health Awareness Week (15 to 21 May). 

The 12m-tall banner has been created by IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect and will be displayed all week on a Galliford Try building site in the heart of the West End. 

The mural includes 687 high-vis vests, representing the annual number of construction suicides in the UK. 

An average of 687 skilled trade workers died by suicide each year between 2019 and 2021, according to the latest government data. This equates to 13 people each week, or almost two a day, on average. 

In 2021, tradespeople accounted for 15% of suicides across all industries, which is more than any other occupation. In fact, construction workers are nearly four times as likely to die by suicide than some other sectors. 

The high-vis vests were stitched together into one garment by fabric manufacturer J&C Joel. 

Work-related issues

The display was unveiled alongside IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect’s annual Mental Health in the Trades report. The survey of 500 UK tradespeople found that more than four in five (84%) experience mental health problems due to work-related issues.  

Mental Health Awareness Week
The banner includes 687 high-vis vests

Dominick Sandford, managing director at IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect, said: “We hope that this artwork serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating impact of mental health issues within the trades industry. 

“By bringing this issue to the forefront of people’s minds, we hope to encourage more open conversations around mental health and continue our efforts to support those who may be struggling." 

As part of the campaign, the Essex-based companies have partnered with the mental health charity, Basildon Mind, and are donating over £5,000 to support its services. 

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.” 

24/7 Construction Industry Helplines
0345 605 1956 (UK)/ 1800 939 122 (ROI)
Text HARDHAT to 85258 (UK) / 50808 (ROI)
Via the Construction Industry Helpline website

This story first appeared in CIOB People

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  1. I do not live in the UK anymore, although I still work in construction abroad. The problem is most of us are massively overworked and underpaid. Everyday can be a marathon. A marathon we do not have the luxury of resting in-between. We are athletes in our own right. But unlike athletes our injuries we just work through because we can not afford the time to recover. Our employers use us until we are broken and when we can no longer perform we are thrown on the scrap heep and discarded with no aid. Unlike professional sports where these people earn enough to retire at a young age, we do not have that luxury. But without us, what would you live in, where would you get your water, the power to illuminate all your electrical devices. We are massively unappreciated and more just treated like slaves. More to the point wages stagnated . I get paid less now than I did 20 years ago. People have us work then refuse to pay also. What can we do, law only works if you can afford it.

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