Digital Construction Week is almost here; taking place on the 24th and 25th November at the ExCeL London.

Trevor Steven, our mental health ambassador and ex-Everton and England football player, is speaking at the event about mental health in the construction industry.

We spoke with Trevor to talk about the state of mental health in construction, his progress at Causeway, and the upcoming DCW event.

A study has shown that people working in the construction industry are three times more likely to take their own lives than other sectors.

The study by Glasgow Caledonian University noted a rise in the number of suicides over a four-year period. Commissioned by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, it found rates had climbed from 26 per 100,000 people in 2015 to 29 per 100,000 in 2019.

“It stands out like a beacon,” says Trevor. “That fuelled passion in Phil Brown, the Causeway CEO, who said we can do something here. Let’s see what we can do. Let’s start a conversation.

“We’re at the tip of the iceberg. To reach the summit of this, we need a constant conversation about mental health and suicide in the industry.”

Joining the dots between construction, mental health and football

In 2020, Causeway teamed up with Premier League club Everton’s charity – Everton in the Community (EitC) – and donated £200,000 towards a new mental health facility in Liverpool. It represented the launch of a strategic partnership to tackle mental health in Merseyside and the construction industry.

“There’s a bigger picture with EitC,” says Trevor. “We are trying to build a blueprint that’s adoptable by other football clubs.”

Such a diverse range of cultures and nationalities make up the construction workforce. As the most popular sport on the planet, football sits in a unique position to reach these people and make a real difference.

“If you look at football fans, there’s a significant percentage that work in the construction industry. We know there is a strong connection between the clubs and their local communities, where the clubs want to be supportive. Fans want this strong connection with their club too.”

This relationship between Causeway, EitC, football and Trevor is driving the next steps in the fight to raise awareness and make a real difference in how mental health is handled in the construction industry.

Raising awareness at the highest level

Causeway is working closely with leading construction companies and EitC on a research report to raise awareness of mental health in construction.

“We’re looking to distribute a survey to produce a report that identifies where the problems lie,” says Trevor. “It’s an on-the-ground viewpoint rather than industry down.”

“We have the vision to take the survey and create noise around the results. We’ll continue to talk about the construction industry’s problems with mental health. Then, we hope to reach a lobbying position with the government.”

Trevor compared the way the industry viewed health & safety in construction decades ago to how seriously it is taken now.

In 1974, the Government passed the Health and Safety at Work Act. That same year, 166 fatal accidents were recorded, accounting for roughly a quarter of all deaths at work.

“It took several decades for it to reach the point where it's completely and utterly regulated,” says Trevor. “It’s down to the nth degree, and that’s with government assistance.

“We believe that mental health support should be taken seriously. Particularly the support mechanisms that can be derived from and supported at the regulation level.

“Every construction company should have an obligation to give a certain level of support, direct support, so they can start to take action instead of just pointing to a helpline.”

Breaking the ice: Tea with Trev

Trevor joined Causeway as the nation was forced into the second lockdown just before Christmas 2020. Once it began, he saw a chance to both ease the side effects of isolation and break the ice with colleagues.

He started an event called “Tea with Trev” and invited everyone at Causeway to book a call with him on Thursday mornings.

“I came up with the idea because people couldn’t leave the house or speak to anyone without a Zoom call. The only criteria were booking either 15 or 30 minutes and I want to talk about anything. Football, politics, the weather, the kids’ breakfast, dinner or supper.

“It was an internal action, completely private and kept between me and the other person. It was very popular.”

After the event’s success, Trevor started an internal podcast to talk about mental health called “A Time to Talk”. He hosted the show and spoke to Causeway staff who kindly volunteered to share their story with colleagues.

“Obviously, the bravery and courage of our guests were incredible, with all seniority levels of the business taking part. I think everyone found it quite cathartic.”

Opening the diary for everyone at DCW 2021

At Digital Construction Week 2021, Trevor will be speaking on both days - 24th and 25th November.

  • People & Change; creating a culture for digitalisation (panel)

Day 1@ 12:30pm – 1:15pm on the Main Stage

  • Tackling mental health head on: joining the dots between construction, mental health and football

Day 2 @ 1:00pm – 1:30pm on the People and Change Theatre

Trevor will join the Causeway Team at Stand D40 between the speaking slots.

You can grab a free hot drink from our barista, speak to our team about digitisation and chat with Trevor about mental health – or anything you like.

“I’m there with an open diary for anyone to come and have a chat,” says Trevor.

“Everyone has a different story. We’ve all got different backgrounds and challenges. We have family or we don’t have family or we struggle with our relationships. All of these are contributory factors.

“It's important not to take judgements. Once we start to understand that and go forward with kindness and care and love, our communities will be a better place for everybody.”

If you haven't booked your free tickets to Digital Construction Week, grab them here.

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