Meet the Yorkshire construction boss looking to improve mental health in the industry

Chris Fawcett
Chris Fawcett
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A construction site manager has launched his own business to prevent workers in the industry developing mental health issues and to help them enjoy more fulfilling careers in the sector.

Chris Fawcett has established his own coaching business that looks to work with people in construction on either a one-to-one basis or through workshops.

Chris Fawcett

Chris Fawcett

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he said: “We’re trying to deal with mental health at the moment. Where I’ve seen the issue is that we deal with things once they’ve happened. Prevention is far better than the cure.”

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Construction still remains a predominantly male dominated industry, although more women are taking on roles, particularly in office functions.

Mr Fawcett says this can create a “macho” environment on certain sites with male workers unwilling to open up about emotional issues that they may be facing.

Jobs also often require long hours with workers facing time pressures as well as really labour intensive tasks.

There is also the issue of what constitutes harmless banter and what crosses the line.

“Having a laugh and having a bit of banter is good but we don’t know how that other person is feeling,” Mr Fawcett said. “It’s a very fine balance. I think we all need to be aware of what we are saying.”

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However, enjoying a joke with one another can make stressful work situations more tolerable, he added.

Mr Fawcett is currently a site manager at the St Theresa’s Catholic Primary School in Crossgates, Leeds. He hopes to be running Chris Fawcett Coaching full-time by the end of the year.

The construction site manager believes mental health is a big issue in the construction industry.

He said: “There have been issues where people have been stressed and had to have days off work for not feeling very well. This is not just one specific job. This happens across the board.

“Every project I’ve worked on throughout my career there has always been somebody that has either needed time off or been off in the recent past.”

It doesn’t just have an impact on the worker but also on projects. Physical and mental health go hand in hand, says Mr Fawcett, and that can have an impact on output.

“If people are struggling and they are not happy, they’re not feeling fulfilled. It can certainly reduce productivity because they don’t want to be here,” he added.

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Using neuro linguistic programming (NLP) techniques, Mr Fawcett hopes to help workers on building sites develop positive mindsets and be open to talking about any emotional issues that they may have.

While the business is in its infancy, he came up with the idea in January and launched it in April, Mr Fawcett has already seen interest from building companies in running workshops for them.

The young entrepreneur is also in discussions with Leeds College of Building.

For a long time mental health has had a stigma attached to it with many men avoiding talking about any issues they may have.

However, things are starting to change in the construction industry. Many building sites, including the one Mr Fawcett is currently working on, have a mental first aider on hand. There is also a generational shift in the industry with younger people more willing to have open and frank discussions about their mental wellbeing.

Mr Fawcett said: “I think as the new generation of male and female construction professionals come into this industry, that’s when the real change will happen.”

Through his business, Mr Fawcett hopes to prevent issues flaring up in the future.