RSK’s mental health champions Lindsey Marie and Phil Hinchey recently spoke to Ground Engineering to discuss the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the well-being of engineers and site workers like themselves.
As a result of the pandemic, significant changes to the way we work have been in place for almost a year, forcing some of us to work from home, while others have had to alter their work practices to continue with site-based projects. The adaptations made to ensure a COVID-secure environment on-site can be especially taxing and can take a toll on the mental well-being of those working on such projects. Lindsey and Phil have observed these challenges, noting that 90% of workers on one of their sites had reached out for mental health support in the past year, asking for help with increased “worry, anxiety and sadness”.
In construction settings, interactions with colleagues have reduced significantly. Site-based teams are no longer able to enjoy the social benefits of working in a close and collaborative team environment; instead, work is carried out at a distance and interaction is only possible with the one team member in your personal bubble. As a result, isolation is taking a toll on the well-being of those working on construction sites and is increasing the worry caused by the risks to workers and their families as the virus spreads.
Lindsey and Phil, however, are encouraged by the increased openness of colleagues in discussing the impacts that COVID-19 and its related mitigation measures are having on their mental health. They have recognised a shift in the conversation about mental well-being at work, noting that, “it has become much more acceptable to say that you are having a hard time” over the past year. Both Lindsey and Phil hope this will enable the establishment of a “corporate culture where people are able to talk about mental health” and gain access to available support services. By fostering an open environment in the workplace, Lindsey and Phil hope colleagues will find it easier to talk about their own experiences and the difficulties they may be facing.
Lindsey and Phil’s conversation with Ground Engineering is available to read in full here.