MATES in Construction
The construction industry loses more workers to suicide every year than any other industry in New Zealand. On average, one construction worker takes their own life every week. Our industry is vibrant, exciting, and integral to the New Zealand economy, but it can also be a challenging industry to work in with long hours, transient working conditions and masculine stoic beliefs that can impact on our people’s mental health and wellbeing.
The current context is exacerbating these pressures. Construction costs have risen at their fastest pace since 2012 and labour and supply shortages are impacting the industries’ ability to deliver on-time and on-budget. Our people are also feeling the pressure at home with annual inflation hitting a 30-year high of 6.9%, the biggest financial squeeze for households seen in over three decades. Nationally, rents are increasing, mortgage rates are on the rise and the cost of food and petrol is up.
MATES in Construction are seeing the impacts of this in our mahi on the ground and research carried out by MATES has also confirmed the impact that the global pandemic is having on our industries mental wellbeing. 43% of survey respondents reported that their mental health had been worse since COVID-19 arrived in New Zealand and the main reasons for this were COVID protocols, high workloads and workplace pressures and delays. Our recent study also highlighted the ongoing need for suicide prevention suicide services like MATES in construction with 4% of survey respondents – 45 people – reporting that they had seriously considered ending their own life in the four months following the Delta variant arriving in New Zealand.
In 2021, MATES provided mental health and suicide awareness training to over 11,000 construction workers in New Zealand and that was a year with four months taken up in lockdown. “Now more than ever, we need to make sure we are showing up to support our industry and our most important asset, our people. In the last six months we have almost doubled our workforce so that we can make sure we are meeting the needs of our people.” – Victoria McArthur, CEO MATES. MATES is now operating out of Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, and Dunedin with the ability to support our growing stakeholders.