Mates in Construction calls for funding as survey reveals mental health in construction workers is worsening

Warning: The article covers suicide. 

Construction workers responding to a recent survey say their mental health is worsening with more seriously considering ending their own lives. 

An organisation that helps those on-site says they need more government support to help vulnerable workers. 

There are plenty of trip hazards, that workers on-site need to be aware of to stay safe. But Mates in Construction CEO Victoria McArthur warns there's an unseen danger afoot. 

"Mental health has got worse this year than it was last year, even though we're out of those lockdowns."

The construction sector loses one person on average a week to suicide, the highest rate of any industry in New Zealand.

In 2021 43 percent of workers felt their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic. This year that's up to 47 percent. 

And in 2021 78 percent of workers felt they were able to manage stress most of the time. This year that's dropped to 73 percent.

"What's most concerning to the group is the increase in percentage of construction workers who have seriously considered ending their life,

"We have to think that's peoples' lives we're talking about not just statistics," McArthur added. 

And mental health organisation, Mates in Construction fears there will be an increase in the number of lives lost to suicide this year.

"They're really hurting because of the shortage of manpower let alone the shortage of resources that are out there," Mates in Construction Field Officer Slade McFarland said. 

There's also the added stress of playing catch up on projects that were delayed by lockdowns.

"Eight to 10-hour jobs mostly end up being 16-18 hours long for the day."

Last year, the organisation received $6,000 in Government funding but they say this year they need more. At least $1.5 million from the Government to keep up with the growing demand for help. 

"They are in negotiations with Government departments next week, so that will be a matter for those departments to engage in discussions with Mates in Construction," said Health Minister Andrew Little. 

"If we don't get a sustainable funding stream we'll have to retrench our support for the industry," Sade said.

That means jobs at Mates In Construction would go, and with them so would a lot of the mental health tools they provide our most vulnerable workers.

Where to find help and support: 

Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633

Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)

Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737

What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)

Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email or online chat

Samaritans - 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757

Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584