Research commissioned by the Electrical Contractors Association has revealed the vast majority its largest members have set up mental health and wellbeing initiatives.

The report found that 89 per cent of the 24 largest ECA members by turnover surveyed had trained mental health first aiders. Some 83 per cent of the companies also provided access to counselling services and carried out return to work interviews. These efforts were backed by most companies (85 per cent) developing specific policies and procedures to support the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

However, the research also showed that there were several challenges relating to mental health and wellbeing strategies. Communication was mentioned by 47 per cent of respondents as being an issue with workplace stigma and perceptions classed as the second biggest problem, being cited by 41 per cent.

There was also a sense that measuring outcomes was a challenge. More than a third said there was a lack of clarity over how to measure success and the same proportion (35 per cent) believed there was a poor evidence base to measure return on investment strategies.

The ECA suggested that this “may be of significant during a period where organisations need to be particularly mindful of where to invest their effort and money.” It added that some of the members had not been able to review the mental health and wellbeing issues due to a lack of resources and that others faced business critical challenges.

ECA director of corporate social responsibility Paul Reeve, said: “It’s widely understood that mental health is a significant issue across construction and engineering services. However, the pandemic has amplified the factors adversely affecting mental health.

“These range from various causes of stress to increased isolation, poor diet and lack of exercise. Reflecting these increased challenges, the large contractors reported significant and increasing engagement with mental health issues.”

Josh Bourne health and safety manager of TClarke, one of the companies that took part in the research, said mental health had “become focal point across the construction industry”.

“It’s encouraging to see it is being embedded in leading engineering services companies.” He added. “As well as the network of trained mental health first aiders across our own business, we offer classes on practical breathing and meditation techniques that can help to manage stress. These classes were so useful that we created a series of videos so that our teams across the UK can access the techniques”.

The ECA offers its members discounted online mental health first aider and awareness training, details of which can be found here.

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