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Texts to construction mental health helpline double in last 3 months

A charity has seen a 105.5% increase in messages after the launch of an initiative to take the mental health message to sites across the UK.
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Hays, the construction recruitment specialist, joined forces with the charity Band of Builders (BoB) in October, taking the lead on visiting sites and reaching out to both bosses and operatives to discuss tackling the industry’s mental health crisis and signposting support that is readily available, free and easy to access.

In the last three months, the Hays team has visited more than 500 sites – with the company pledging to continue visiting more construction sites and estates teams in 2024.

The push to raise awareness has prompted a 105.5% jump in messages to the text line launched by BoB to help tradespeople and construction workers – a worrying number but evidence that more people in the sector are seeking help.

The latest figures from the helpline show that texts about depression, financial difficulties or relationship issues accounted for 52.9% of messages. Thankfully, the number of cries for help from construction workers considering taking their own lives has decreased from 30.4% to 13.1% in the last three months.

The stats come at a notoriously worrying time of year, with a spike in calls and messages from people in construction seeking help – where the suicide rate is significantly higher than in other sectors.

BoB CEO Gavin Crane praised Hays’ commitment to taking the mental health message to sites as part of the services it offers to managers and candidates it places in temporary or short-term contracts.

“Hays is uniquely placed to take the mental health message to sites, and the fact that the number of messages to our text service has more than doubled in the last three months highlights the impact they are having in signposting members of the construction community to that all-important first step in asking for help,” he said.

“It’s vital to keep signposting where construction worker can get help if they are struggling with their mental health: they can text BOB to 85258.”

The launch of the initiative was timed to coincide with World Mental Health Day in October, and all of Hays’ frontline staff have been visiting construction sites to discuss mental health with staff and to promote the work of BoB – a charity that not only helps tradespeople and their families who are suffering from illness or injury but also runs the Big Brew, a campaign that has raised sufficient funds to provide access to free mental health and wellbeing services.

As part of the initiative, Hays has invested in BoB-branded merchandise, which is left at each site its staff visit to reinforce the message and signpost where mental health support can be accessed. This includes posters that have gone up on site noticeboards and in canteens and are visible to many workers on site.

Gaelle Blake, Director of the Construction and Property Division at Hays, commented: “We’ve been really impressed with the brilliant work Band of Builders are doing to raise awareness of the mental health challenges that exist amongst construction workers, and we’re pleased to be able to support them to help ensure this message gets through to the temporary workers we place on sites across the country,” she said.

“Providing signposting and support for construction workers who might be struggling is essential to ensure that mental health is openly spoken about within the construction industry and that workers receive the support they need.”