HALTON Borough Council has taken a major step towards tackling mental health issues in the construction industry.

This was prompted by the ‘shockingly high’ rate of suicides among young men in the industry, with latest figures form 2002 showing 507 cases that year – almost 10 a week.

The council has now agreed that all future construction tender processes will require the main contractor to include a statement about the mental wellbeing of all staff and sub-contractors.

Halton is the first council in the country to take this approach, and it hopes this will change the approach to mental health within construction.

Council leader Cllr Mike Wharton said: “The suicide rates of young men working in construction are shockingly high, and it is time to do more.

“Asking contractors to consider the mental wellbeing of their staff, and making this a prerequisite of being awarded contracts, will help make inroads into the challenge of reducing the numbers of suicides and people experiencing mental health issues at work.

“We are the first council in the country to take this approach, and I hope many more will follow.”

Cllr Wharton and chief executive Stephen Young also met with ex-Everton and England international footballer, Trevor Steven.

Steven is a mental health ambassador for Causeway Technologies, which is leading a campaign aimed at improving the provision of mental health support in construction.

He conducted a survey between May 2022 and September 2023 which saw him visit construction sites up and down the country and speaking to more than 1,400 on-site workers.

Using the subject of football to encourage workers to open up about their mental health, the survey found 56 per cent of them experienced mental health problems, and 12 per cent experienced suicidal thoughts.