Demolishing the mental health stigma

By Ben Goode, LSI Architects

In the architecture industry, we know that intense workloads, long hours and doing more for less can increase the likelihood of a mental health issue for its professionals.

Published in Norfolk Director Magazine Summer | Autumn 2023
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Life Touching Design: LSI Architects

As an employer operating within the construction sector, we know that we can’t always take away those pressures. But with research highlighting that one in four will suffer poor mental health in any given year, business leaders need to seriously think about whether there is more they can do to help their teams cope better.

Construction work has many pressures, from tight turnarounds to long hours, time away from loved ones and managing budgets, not to mention the added stresses that were caused by the Covid pandemic and its impact on the rising costs of supplies.

Furthermore, there can be a ‘macho’ culture in construction that prevents workers seeking support when they need it.

A stark statistic

Men in the UK are three times more likely to die by suicide than women. In construction – a male-dominated industry – males are three times more likely to take their own lives than the national average for men. These statistics are startling; every day two construction workers take their own life.

A recent study by the charity, Mates in Mind*, shows that almost a third of construction workers are now living with elevated levels of anxiety each day, but the continuing stigma of mental illness prevents them from discussing it beyond close friends or family members.

As employers, what we can do is help people to access more information around mental health and wellbeing, recognise triggers, and provide strategies to keep people well and resilient. By capturing things early, we can signpost to mental health professionals before they become a bigger issue.

Business leaders are not experts in mental health, but we can engage external consultants to identify the steps that need to be taken. To show that we are taking this seriously and that it is ‘ok to not be ok’.

Workplace wellbeing

At LSI, it started with participating in charity Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index. Feedback we received from employees and Mind helped us structure an approach to workplace wellbeing based on what our team said they needed and what the experts advised.

We are proud to have been awarded ‘Gold’ in this initiative, and, more importantly, more of our team say they’d feel comfortable disclosing issues they may be experiencing as a result.

Colleagues may not be immediately receptive to activities or sharing personal experiences until they’re confident disclosure will be met with compassion and support.

We started with informative workshops, run by Mind, sharing simple strategies to understand the causes of poor mental health, promote positive mental health and give our teams the confidence to share lived experiences.

Most of our team subsequently changed something about their lifestyle, like their work routines, diet or exercise habits, for the better.


Demolishing the mental health stigma 1

Ben Goode is CEO at LSI Architects

T: 01603 660711

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LSI Architects is an AJ100, award winning architectural practice based in London and Norwich. For more information…

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