Including mental health provisions in construction contracts can help normalise a taboo topic and improve worker wellbeing, writes Pagabo’s Jason Stapley.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. For the construction industry, it is a sober reminder of its ongoing struggles with mental health, holding one of the worst rates for worker suicide.
Following a call by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Issues Affecting Men and Boys for strengthened mental health provisions within construction contracts, Pagabo has changed its procurement documents.
Prioritising mental health through strengthened terms and conditions in all framework contracts means that businesses in our supply chain are made to demonstrate and be held accountable for how they are looking after their people during projects.
Advancements and industry growth have no place without improving support for people that have lives outside an office or construction site. This is why the inclusion of mental health provisions will bring accountability, supporting the wellbeing of each individual worker.
Our charity arm, the Pagabo Foundation, has regular fundraising events. We invest the money raised in mental health first aid training, which is then free for the industry – proving there are accessible initiatives available.
Mental health stigma
Mates In Mind states in its 2022 study that more than two-thirds of construction workers believe there is a stigma surrounding mental health which stops them from talking about it. Removing the idea of mental health as a taboo topic in the industry is rectified by industry leaders talking about it first. But including provisions within contracts to ensure staff wellbeing is essential if this figure is to decrease.
It is our mission, and one we should share, to normalise mental health and wellbeing support. We must improve all areas of our industry, from technology to our people, to be sustainable and mindful.
The same Mates In Mind report revealed that 91% of construction workers have felt overwhelmed, with 26% experiencing suicidal thoughts. These figures highlight that the risk is too high for us not to place the improvement of mental health support at the forefront of our minds.
As a leading national framework provider, we accept responsibility for building mental health awareness in the industry and will continually look to highlight the areas for change that are necessary.
It is up to us to not only be involved in the collective push for improvement, but also in solidifying mental health and wellbeing support as a key component of the built environment.
Jason Stapley is chief procurement officer at The 55 Group and chairman of the Pagabo Foundation.
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