Industry bodies face up to mental-health challenge

mental health
Mental-health awareness — Paul McLaughlin.

The Building Engineering Services Association, the Electrical Contractors’ Association and CIBSE Patrons have joined forces to work with the Samaritans on a campaign to address the growing problem of mental health and workplace stress in the building-engineering-services industry.

BESA chief executive Paul McLaughlin says that 80% of engineering-services firms believe that workplace mental health will have a serious impact on their businesses over the next five to 10 years. This statistic emerged from an occupational-health survey carried out by the BESA and the ECA, which also revealed that 31% of companies found on-site mental-health issues ‘hard to manage’.

‘Mental health is the forgotten health-and-safety issue,’ say Mr McLaughlin. ‘As an industry, we have made impressive progress on workplace safety in the past 20 years, but on health — and mental health in particular — we still have a long way to go.’

CIBSE Patrons chairman David Fitzpatrick points out that the impact of stress is apparent throughout the supply chain. ‘For an industry that already has serious recruitment issue, tackling mental health has to be a priority,’ he says.

Paul Reeve, ECA director of business, comments, ‘With workplace mental health now an established issue, the sector needs to work together to help contractors manage these issues.

‘Unlike ensuring protection against physical health hazards, employees who face mental-health challenges may be the least able to decide or follow the right course of preventative action, presenting additional challenges to firms.’

This issues will be discussed at a seminar in London on 21 July at 5 pm, with an interactive session led by Samaritans regional partnership office Will Skinner. Attendance is free to members of the BESA, the ECA and CIBSE Patrons, who may bring a guest.

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