The Mental Health Foundation has announced that Mental Health Awareness Week which takes place annually will run from Monday 9th – Sunday 15th may in 2022. The theme this year will be ‘loneliness’. Currently in its 21st year the event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks in the UK and globally, and despite many of us being able to reconnect with loved ones since the start of the pandemic there are still many people who have struggled to regain normality after such a long period of turmoil. Loneliness has been a key contributor to poor mental health, in younger generations just under three quarters of young people (72%) said loneliness had made their mental health worse and of adults a huge 82% of people claimed feeling lonely made their mental health deteriorate.

Women in Construction

There are many ways which in times of stress people show different attributes towards how they cope with situations out of their control and for the majority of people they have the ability to adjust and continue on their life path, but for some others this is not always the case, and a proportion of the minority will turn to recreational substances as a way of dealing with such issues. (Click here for more information relating to stress and self-help strategies)

Should Government be asking… “Can drug & alcohol testing make construction better?”

The government office for health improvement and disparities research shows the new national statistics report for Adult Substance Misuse in 2020/2021 and this clearly shows there has been an increase in the use of Opiates, Cannabis, and Alcohol which can all be linked back into Mental Health issues and loneliness sparked via the pandemic. During this time with restrictions in place not only has it been harder to access Mental Health services for those struggling with addiction, but we also need to consider all those who were initially struggling with this new way of life and then became new users but also the ex-users at risk of relapsing from recovery if they were not able to access the help they would normally need. The statistics show more than two-thirds of people in treatment were men and less then one-third were women (68% men to 32% women) during the first couple of waves of the pandemic in the UK.

There is a difference between Substance Misuse and Dependency. Dependency is when there is an addiction in which the user cannot stop on their own accord and may need help. Misuse is when the action is happening more frequently than it should and the individual may do so in isolated instances.

There are many urban myths and misconceptions around the laws on the use of drugs, however, it’s important to remember it is illegal possess, supply, or produce controlled drugs and to allow premises you own, rent, use or occupy to be used for any drug-related activity including recreational. Substance misuse can also be a serious workplace issue. Not only can their use lead to significant health problems but anyone under the influence can be a hazard to themselves and others (especially if they are operating machinery). It is important to remember when we say substance abuse it is not just illegal drugs we are referring to it does also include alcohol and prescription drugs for medical conditions, many people have prescription drugs to help them live a normal life and find it hard to function without them so it is important to communicate with your employer openly about any medications you may be prescribed by your GP if it could impair your work tasks.

The way society uses alcohol in the workplace has changed a lot over the years. In the past it was common practise for staff in some sectors to go to the pub for lunch and consume a few ‘pints’ or heading to the clubhouse for a ‘tipple’ which although is not illegal is nowadays frowned upon. Some people could choose to use alcohol to cope with work related stressors and it is proven that if there is an ongoing problem with alcohol in the working environment then there is a wider issue around stress workloads that should be addressed; one way to solve this is to try to ensure that no one is working excessive hours or maintaining more than their workload. Socialising after work with colleagues can be important to build relationships away from the work space however when this heavily revolves around alcohol consistently it can also lead to problems, try encouraging alternative venues.

Should employers be asking… “Can drug & alcohol testing make construction better?”

Employers have a legal responsibility to protect employee’s health, safety, and welfare while in the working environment. Employees should be consulted on health and safety matters to include the effects of using drugs and alcohol in the workplace and the implications of using such substances can create hazards with serious outcomes, things should be put into place to help employers address these issues such as a drugs and alcohol policy which should contain information on recognition, what employers can do, changing culture of the organisation, increasing awareness on such issues, legalities and processes.

Employers in the construction sector are starting to take a proactive stance against this issue and are starting to impose screening into their workplace pre-employment inductions for new employees as part of a zero-tolerance initiative.

Having this in place from the start of employment is helping to tackle other issues such as less turnover of staff due to having to replace other staff members which is taking up productive working time not having to train new members of staff constantly.

Therefore, an important part of pre-employment training is efficient drug and alcohol testing and not only in construction this includes other sectors also. CPJ Group provide reliable and efficient Drug & Alcohol Testing using the most up-to-date technologies designed to be less invasive and more hygienic to all. CPJ also offer batch testing for up to six candidates at a time.

Please see the following for more information if you need help addressing any of the issues above:

FRANK (talktofrank.com): call 0300 1236600, text 82111

AA (alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk): call 0800 9177650

HOW TO REPORT CRIME – If in Immediate danger call 999, for Non-emergency enquiries call 101.

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