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Men’s Health Week 2020 – The Pressures Of Working In The Building Sector

Men’s Health Week 2020 – The Pressures Of Working In The Building Sector
17 June 2020 | Updated 23 June 2020

It’s Men’s Health Week 2020, and Terry Sharp, President of the BCIA, discusses the pressure on mental health in the building controls sector and how it may have escalated during the past few months.

Sharp has worked in the building controls industry for over 35 years and is an Associate at NDA Consulting, the specialist BEMS and energy consultancy practice. His previous experience includes UK and European leadership roles at Johnson Controls, Sontay and Satchwell Control Systems. 


“We work in a vibrant and rewarding sector, but it comes with its own pressures and perhaps, historically, a somewhat stereotypical “macho” image, making it harder for employees to talk about any difficulties they are having, whether it’s with a boss, a colleague or family member.”

Terry Sharp

President, BCIA

Mental Health in The Building Sector


The lockdown period during the coronavirus outbreak has put tremendous strain on a number of industries, including the building sector. Whether you’re an engineer for a large contractor or you are self-employed, the uncertainty over whether you have enough income to support yourself and your family will have made this a very stressful time. Financial difficulties can play a significant role in the deterioration of a person’s mental state of mind and things can escalate quickly if the appropriate help is not available when needed.  

It is not just the financial pressure, however, that can affect people. Getting up and going to work each day gives us a purpose, it keeps us motivated and our minds active. Losing that focus is not always easy to deal with and can open up mental health issues that were perhaps being kept at bay by regular work.


Terry Sharp

Picture: A photograph of Terry Sharp

But mental health issues can affect us at any time, whether at work or at home, and it can sometimes be difficult for a person dealing with them to admit they need help. Some may not even be aware of it, while friends, family and colleagues might be aware but are uncomfortable about discussing it with the individual.

According to Mind, approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health issue each year, and they can come in various forms, including anxiety, depression, addiction, fear, paranoia and anger. These are extremely difficult things for anybody to deal with alone, so it is vital that they are made to feel comfortable in talking about it with someone.


A Stereotypical “Macho” Image


We work in a vibrant and rewarding sector, but it comes with its own pressures and perhaps, historically, a somewhat stereotypical “macho” image, making it harder for employees to talk about any difficulties they are having, whether it’s with a boss, a colleague or family member. 

Thankfully, times are changing and the awareness around mental health is on the rise, thanks to charities like Mind and the World Health Organisation. There is still plenty of work to do of course and during my term as BCIA President I will aim to help promote the message that “it is okay to not be okay."


Interruption to Careers


Anyone who has begun an apprenticeship or booked themselves on to training courses in the past year will have had the start of their careers interrupted. Whether you’re a school leaver just starting out or someone seeking a mid-life career change, it can be both exciting and daunting as you embark on what hopefully becomes a rewarding and fulfilling career. 

A disruption as big as the coronavirus pandemic, which none of us could have predicted, will have therefore come as a severe blow, as schools, colleges, universities and other educational facilities were closed, including the BCIA’s Training Centre in Peterborough.

Training obviously plays a very important part in the advancement of our industry and the BCIA has long been a supporter of its benefits. The BCIA’s introduction of online training means that the BCIA can continue to respond to the demands of the industry and the needs of everyone within it, even during the lockdown period.

In addition to training, it is important that we keep talking as an industry and look out for each other. Trainees need encouragement and nurturing, especially if they have been temporarily placed on furlough, and perhaps by implementing mentor/buddy systems within organisations, we can ensure nobody is left feeling alone and despondent. 

For our industry to thrive, a professional, knowledgeable and, most importantly, healthy workforce is required, as smart buildings and building controls are going to play a crucial role as the world adapts to new ways of working.

Picture: A photograph of two men at a table, talking

Article written by Terry Sharp | Published 17 June 2020


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