Over 16 million people in the UK are experiencing mental health problems each year, yet mental health is often a taboo subject in our sector. In fact, 75 per cent of those affected do not receive treatment or share their problems. This highlights the need to address the mental health problems across our industry and offer more support for thousands of employees and their families who are affected by it.
Mental health issues can affect people in many different forms, but the most common ones are depression and anxiety which are affecting 8.2 million people. If not treated in time, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression could lead to serious issues including alcoholism and suicidal thoughts, which are among the biggest causes of death across our sector.
According to recent statistics published by construction firm Willmott Dixon, 42 per cent of men in the construction industry are currently living with mental health problems while trying to cope at work. Another worrying statistic released by the Mental Health Association stated that in 2016 alone, there were 5,688 suicide deaths of which 75 per cent were males, and 25 per cent were females. Additionally, alcoholism in the UK in 2015 alone led to 8,758 alcohol-related deaths.
Many people who experience mental health problems can recover fully or are able to live with and manage them, especially if they get help early on. Therefore, early intervention is a key to a successful recovery. This is why the Electrical Industries Charity is offering free counselling services as part of its Employee Assistance Programme which is open to everyone who is affected by mental health problems. The Charity’s Programme offers everyone in the electrical industry much needed free support services including counselling, financial assistance, training support through the charity’s partners, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and a free confidential helpline which is available 24-hours a day.
The example of Brian O’Rourke shows how sharing problems and seeking help when affected can significantly change the future of those who are dealing with mental health problems.
Brian was referred to the Charity by his employer McGill Electrical following separation from his wife in 2016. He developed depression and turned to alcohol to ease his suffering. Brian’s drinking got so bad that he lost 3.5 stone and his life was left hanging in the balance. With an 8-year-old son who is autistic, Brian knew he needed help so he could be the father his son needed and deserved. The Charity organised and paid for private rehabilitation and family therapy. Without this Brian might not be alive today, conceivably leaving his son without a father.
Brain said: “There may be a lot of people who will not admit to having a problem like mine because they feel ashamed. But once you admit it, you can start to move forward with your life. Now, I take my son to the golf driving range, the cinema and swimming too. We have a great time together.
“The Electrical Industries Charity knows that people have problems, sometimes before they admit this themselves. If you need help, the Charity will be there to offer the free support you need, often where otherwise you would not receive it. They will help you, not might but will. My life just now feels blessed, and my eyes are smiling. My son has his dad back and for that I will be forever grateful.”
Brian’s story shows that isolation and alcohol does not ease life’s problems, and in fact, it makes matters worse. Therefore, it is important for people to share their problems and get help as soon as they experience mental health issues.
As an industry, we need to show our support for those who are dealing with mental health problems by ending the stigma. The Charity’s Employee Assistance Programme intends to provide support and change the way mental health problems are portrayed in the electrical sector.