Healthier Construction: Conceptualising Transformation of Mental Health Outcomes through an Integrated Supply Chain Model

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The construction industry is undoubtedly one of the most significant global sectors that contributes to sustainable development across physical, social, environmental and economic objectives. Globally the value of the construction industry is USD 10 trillion annually. The robustness of the sector is in serious question with a crisis in mental health. The rebuilding of economies is often led by significant capital works programs and therefore in response to the global pandemic, it is anticipated that this problem will only be exacerbated. The construction sector has a unique project-based structure of numerous intersecting subsectors, which influence the behaviours and culminate in highly demanding work environments on a project-by-project basis. We propose that to institute transformational change to the mental health problem, we need to challenge current problematisations towards presenting a new conceptual framework. The aim of this paper is to analyse the industrial organisation and the structural and behavioural context of the industry and propose a new approach to understanding interactions at multiple levels in relation to root causes of the mental health problem. Aligned to the UN SDG that we are to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all, this paper responds to high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide in the construction industry. There is a need to generate new knowledge about the interactions between multi project supply chain, construction project supply chain environment and construction supply chain performance in relation to mental health outcomes. Literature indicates that there is a wealth of research on stressors, coping and interventions at an individual level, however very little from an ‘insider’ construction management perspective which contextualise mental health outcomes with the environmental stressors. Coupled with this, past research designs predominantly utilised quantitative approaches reliant on questionnaires. We critique past problematisations of the mental health problem and show how it has been represented to enable the development of a reframed conceptualisation. There is a need to identify contextual evidence-based stressors throughout the construction project supply chain. We present a transformational change model integrating construction industry specific context knowledge with psychosocial expertise to improve workers’ mental health. Future research could lead to outcomes including recommendations and guidelines to engage management actors who can influence positive change through preventative strategies leading to effective and measurable mental health and project performance improvements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9460
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume14
Issue number15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • construction industry
  • depression
  • environmental stressors
  • industrial organisation
  • mental health
  • suicide

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