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Mental health challenges of manual and trade workers in the construction industry: a systematic review of causes, effects and interventions

Jonah Duckworth (School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)
Abid Hasan (School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)
Imriyas Kamardeen (School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 13 December 2022

105

Abstract

Purpose

Data from different countries suggest a higher prevalence of anxiety, depression and suicides among manual and trade workers in the construction industry than in the general population. The present review examines the causes and effects of poor mental health and the effectiveness of interventions to improve manual and trade workers' mental health in the construction industry. It also identifies gaps in research and makes several suggestions for practice and future research.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic literature review was conducted to examine and consolidate evidence reported in 54 relevant journal articles published between 2010 and 2021 on the mental health of manual and trade workers.

Findings

Three major themes emerged in the review of the 54 journal articles: causes of poor mental health, effects of poor mental health and interventions to improve mental health. The leading causes of poor mental health among construction manual and trade workers are poor work-life balance, high job demand, poor cultural norms and mental health stigma, chronic bodily pain, lack of social support, workplace injustice and job insecurity. The prominent effects of poor mental health are suicidality, drug and alcohol addiction, poor workplace safety and poor work performance. Moreover, the study found that some of the strategies recently implemented in the construction industry to improve mental health are deemed ineffective, or their effectiveness remains inconclusive.

Research limitations/implications

The review's scope is limited to research on manual and trade workers, and it did not investigate the mental health of construction professionals and construction management students.

Originality/value

The review provides valuable insights into the causes and effects of poor mental health among manual and trade workers and the effectiveness of mental health interventions in the construction industry.

Keywords

Citation

Duckworth, J., Hasan, A. and Kamardeen, I. (2022), "Mental health challenges of manual and trade workers in the construction industry: a systematic review of causes, effects and interventions", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-11-2021-1022

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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