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Using AI to manage mental health risks in the sector



Men in the construction industry are three times more likely than average men to commit suicide, making it one of the business sectors in the UK with some of the worst rates of mental health. However, despite this, 72% of businesses in the industry acknowledge that they lack a specific policy for offering mental health support. 507 construction workers committed suicide in 2021, or two workers every day.

Construction workers face particular mental health issues because of things like short-term contracts, long hours, long commutes, and time spent away from family. Bullying at work and financial instability only exacerbate the stress of a profession where a “macho” culture that has historically frowned upon weakness is prevalent. Workers in high-stress fields, such as construction, are at serious risk for mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and work-related suicide.

The health and safety of workers, the caliber of construction work completed, the employer’s reputation, and the bottom line are all seriously threatened by the neglect to identify, track, and manage the risk of work-related suicide. These hazards affect not just the worker personally but also their coworkers and the caliber of the work they produce as a whole. Errors stemming from psychological distress can cause accidents and injuries that impact not only the workers but also the end users of the infrastructure they construct. Employers bear a direct cost from this in terms of human accidents as well as insurance and reputational damage.

Using technology to reduce risks

It makes sense to take a dual approach to addressing these issues, combining technological advancements with cultural shifts within a field where stigma, time constraints, and major stressors are commonplace. It’s time for construction companies to stop blaming the worker or manager and instead implement a comprehensive plan that includes both offline and online mental health services.

Conventional approaches include manager training to identify staff members in need of human counseling, such as through employee assistance programs; morning stand-ups to discuss issues candidly; and signage surrounding construction sites. These tactics are crucial for eradicating stigma and granting access to expert assistance. Nevertheless, these approaches depend on people admitting when they need assistance, which can be challenging because of shame and embarrassment. According to our research, despite having significant symptoms, over half of employees in need of assistance decide not to seek medical advice because of time restraints, social stigma, and a lack of awareness about when to seek help. Additionally, these conventional support channels are frequently used very late in a person’s mental health journey, frequently stepping in when they have already reached crisis point, by which point recovery is challenging.

AI-driven mental health apps are one example of a digital tool that fills in the gaps left by traditional mental health care. Their anonymity, accessibility, and immediacy make them appealing to employees who might be reluctant to ask for assistance. Surprisingly, 81 percent of the people we spoke with stated they would rather use a self-help app with clinical validation than contact HR. Tools for AI-led therapy can provide individualized assistance. These apps address stigma, particularly in male-dominated industries where secrecy and embarrassment are prevalent. They are discrete by nature, scalable, convenient, and always ready and available. Most importantly, they can recognize when someone is experiencing a crisis and encourage them to schedule an appointment with a therapist or call emergency crisis lines.

A comprehensive approach to mental health management is possible when digital tools are integrated with traditional, human-centered methods. This comprehensive approach not only reduces risks but also creates a positive work environment, showing a real commitment to employee wellbeing that goes beyond token wellness initiatives. Employers can effectively manage and measure mental health risks by implementing a dual channel approach that begins with awareness, advocacy, and a broad commitment to wellbeing. The additional layer of clinically validated digital interventions with built-in risk prevention completes the picture. By doing this, they can guarantee a safer and healthier work environment while also empowering their employees.


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