CW: this blog cites articles that contain mentions of suicide.
Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, addresses mental health and helps promote resources and build meaningful connections.
World Mental Health Day also raises awareness of mental health issues around the world. People come together on these days to recognise how to look after our mental health and how important it is to talk about it.
Here at Clik, we are by no means professionals when it comes to mental health, but we do want to help spread awareness and open up the conversation in the field service industry. We’ll be having a look at why mental health is important and what can be done to help mental health in the workplace.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health refers to an individual’s emotional, psychological and behavioural well-being. It affects how individuals think, feel and react. There are so many different factors that could contribute to someone’s mental health, and everyone experiences it in different ways, so it is difficult to address all factors.
Many common disorders are linked with mental health and well-being, including – but not limited to – depression, anxiety, eating disorders and schizophrenia.
Why is Mental Health Important?
Everyone is different when mental health is concerned. Sometimes it can affect our ability to carry out everyday tasks like getting out of bed, taking a shower or going to work. There has historically been a stigma surrounding mental health, particularly within certain industries and demographics. Mental health can often go unnoticed but is just as important to acknowledge as any other medical or physical ailment.
Mental Health in the Field Service Industry
Working in the field service industry can be difficult at times. The labour-intensive work is often coupled with long hours working alone away from the office and family. All these increasing factors can affect our mental health and can, on occasion, cause long terms effects on our livelihoods.
A report carried out by CIOB found that 97% of construction industry professionals are under stress at least once a year, with work-related factors contributing to poor mental health.
How COVID-19 Affected the Field Service Industry
The COVID-19 pandemic further added to anxiety and loneliness, with many people separated from loved ones and unable to carry out work as normal. The ever-changing rules and regulations meant that onsite visits were rescheduled, postponed or cancelled, creating stressful situations for field engineers and businesses of all sizes.
In a Survey carried out by mental health charity Mind, two-thirds (65%) of adults with mental health problems say their mental health has gotten worse since the first national lockdown. Additionally, one in four (26%) adults said they had experienced mental distress for the first time during the pandemic.
Dealing With Increasing Demand
As we try to adjust to the post-pandemic life and with many of the COVID laws in the UK being lifted, it can be a lot to deal with a once.
On top of the existing stresses of the job, field service technicians are dealing with more dangerous environments and bigger demands. This might be due to the backlog of work created as a result of the ever-changing pandemic regulations coupled with the flippant changes to material supplies that are currently affecting the trade industry.
Preliminary research results from a major study conducted by Mates in Mind showed that “intense workloads, financial problems, poor work-life balance and COVID-19 pressures on the supply of materials are combining to significantly raise stress and anxiety levels”.
What Can Be Done?
With all these factors building up, it can be difficult to know what to do to help ease the stress. Both businesses and individuals can take steps to be more aware of mental health. Good mental health might look different to each of us, but there are some ways that business can help their staff and colleagues become better acquainted with their mental health.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and, as mentioned, mental health looks different for everyone, so these suggestions might not help everyone. If you’re seeking professional help or you want to learn more, please look at the resources we’ve linked at the bottom of this post.
1. Open the conversation
The first place to start is to open the conversation. This could be with a friend, family member or colleague. Communicating, learning and educating yourself and others around you can be a big first step to tackling the stigma that is linked with mental health. It might seem difficult to speak up, but there are good resources out there to help make the step easier. We’ve linked a few different resources for you to check out at the bottom of this post.
A safe environment is crucial to tackling the social stigma in the trade industry. Training and peer support are important to establish for companies of any size to ensure any issues are picked up early. Some industry-specific factors can sometimes be unavoidable – such as long commute times and time away from family – but with the right support, your team can identify certain areas of improvement that can help levitate daily stresses.
2. Build a better landscape
A report by the Chartered Institute of Building found that 56% of construction professionals work for organisations with no policies on mental health in the workplace. The report uncovered a silent crisis that affects many construction workers in their day-to-day lives.
These report results prove that a better landscape needs to be built for field service technicians in the industry. That can mean making sure technicians are heard and looked after as employees. Additionally, making sure no field service technician is out of the loop, no matter where they’re working on a day-to-day basis is important to consider. With more businesses adjusting to hybrid working and incorporating more remote working lifestyles, it is important to support effective communication between departments and colleagues.
Historically, cultural expectations and gender stereotypes have often discouraged men from seeking help for their mental health concerns. This has resulted in a silent epidemic, where men may suffer in silence, leading to detrimental consequences for their well-being.
By promoting mental health awareness, we can dismantle the stigma surrounding men’s mental health and encourage them to seek support when needed. Increased awareness not only empowers men to prioritise their emotional well-being but also fosters healthier relationships, improved work performance, and overall life satisfaction. If we can take these small steps, we can create a more compassionate and inclusive societal landscape that recognises the importance of emotional well-being for everyone, irrespective of gender.
3. Improve technical resources
As mentioned, training staff is one step toward opening the conversation and therefore building a better working landscape for colleagues to feel comfortable speaking up and addressing concerns. Making resources readily available to your team means that anyone can find the help they need and educate themselves.
These resources can come in many different shapes and sizes. There are a lot of charities and wellness platforms that provide toolkits and resources for the workplace.
Mental Health At Work has plenty of tools, stories and resources available on its website. This includes tips for supporting the financial well-being of your employees, how to make your workplace more autistic-friendly and how to help with the cost-of-living crisis. There is so much more to explore here, so it’s worth exploring to see which are relevant to your business and your staff.
Other organisations such as Building Mental Health also provide support and advice to increase awareness of mental health in the construction industry.
If you or a friend or colleague needs help with mental health, there is a range of professional support options available for help and advice. Take a look at some of the mental health resources we’ve gathered below.
- Help Lightning: Mental Health & Wellness In Field Service: Creating a Culture of (Technician) Care
- Mental Health Foundation: How to support mental health at work
- Powered Now: Mental Health: Support for the trade industry
- Mental Health At Work: Building mental health in construction
Mental Health Resources:
- Mind: 0300 123 3393 (open weekdays 9am-6pm)
- Samaritans: 116 123 (open 24/7)
- Mates in Mind
- Mental Health Foundation
- Mental Health At Work
- Building Mental Health
- Campaign Against Living Miserably
If you or someone you know is experiencing an urgent situation regarding mental health or illness, please call 999.