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Mates in Mind and IES win Occupational Health Research Award

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Mates in Mind and the Institute for Employment Studies have been awarded £25,000 to research the pressures and mental health issues that self-employed tradespeople may suffer.


The award is from the annual Occupational Health Research Award 2021, run by the non-profit finance firm, B&CE.

The joint submission features a four-step plan to learn more about the pressures on the mental health of the estimated one million ‘hard to reach’ people either working for themselves or for small and micro businesses within the construction and manual trades sector.

The research will help shine a light on the mental health struggles of self-employed tradespeople and those working for smaller businesses in the construction industry. Photograph: iStock

The proposal follows concerns that the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic will only exacerbate the pressures on those working within the industry, with risk of suicide within this sector already being higher than the national average.

The award will help Mates In Mind and IES embark upon a research programme, which will conclude with the publication of a report. This report will be made available and it is also hoped that at least one support tool will be developed as a result.

James Rudoni, managing director of Mates in Mind, said: “It’s incredibly important for us to receive this award, our programme is built on an evidence-based approach and this will enable us to undertake research that will help expand support across the whole of the construction sector.

“We can’t yet say what issues the self-employed face as we don’t know a lot about them because there is little existing research and they are hard to reach. They are time poor, on a low income and they don’t have access to the support infrastructure that those working for larger organisations have.”

Nicola Sinclair, from B&CE’s Charitable Trust, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Mates in Mind and the IES have received the 2021 Occupational Health Research Award. Thanks partly to the work that Mates in Mind has already done, great progress has been made in tackling the mental health problem within construction, yet the self-employed, along with those working for smaller and micro businesses have inadvertently been forgotten.”

Stephen Bevan, head of HR research development at IES, said: “This will help us fill in an evidence gap, as we have made lots of educated guesses about what the issues are and the truth is that we don’t know. If you want to move the dial and want Government to take you seriously then you need to give them evidence. This is the first step in getting them to take this seriously.”

Read more about the work planned here

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