8455216_sUK: Building services engineering firms see a growing need to manage occupational mental health.

According to a new survey by the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) and Constructing Better Health,  80% of engineering services firms say they anticipate workplace mental health having a greater impact on their business over the next five to 10 years.

Less than 1% of survey respondents suggested that on-site occupational stress would actually become less important in the next ten years, while around 20% believe its significance will remain the same.

Of the firms who reported that they manage occupational health overall, 56% incorporate plans to tackle potential mental health issues, such as occupational stress. On-site mental health was seen as ‘hard to manage’ by 31% of respondents, despite recognising it as a potential occupational health issue.

“Mental health is a growing issue for our industry as operatives and business owners regularly face highly pressurised work environments; tight deadlines and slim profit margins, all of which have the potential to build up stress levels,” BESA director of technical Tim Rook.

“Many feel there is no room to fail – or even pause for breath – and just ‘soldier on,’ keeping their gradually deteriorating mental state to themselves.

“There is not enough training to equip people in our sector with the necessary communication and caring skills – and the very nature of mental illness makes it difficult for a technical worker to confront. This is something we, as an industry, must get to grips with as a matter of urgency,” he added.

“Unlike ensuring protection against physical health hazards, employees who face mental challenges may be least able to decide or follow the right course of preventative action.  As such, managing occupational mental health can present additional challenges to companies,” commented ECA director of business Paul Reeve.