Construction industry must address workplace stress

Dr Walid Abdul-Hamid explains why stressed-out workers need more mental health support

The construction sector must address the problem of work stress, an expert said in Dubai [representational image].
The construction sector must address the problem of work stress, an expert said in Dubai [representational image].
Dr Walid Abdul-Hamid, Priory Wellbeing Centre, speaking at the CW: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018 in Dubai.
Dr Walid Abdul-Hamid, Priory Wellbeing Centre, speaking at the CW: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018 in Dubai.

Construction has to address the mental health effects of workplace stress, according to Dr Walid Abdul-Hamid, clinical director and consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Wellbeing Centre in Dubai.

Speaking at the CW: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018, he warned that numerous psychological studies suggest people employed in sectors including construction were more stressed-out today than they were a decade ago.

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This can have damaging effects, he explained. “When stress gets higher, we tend to see more [issues in the workplace]. Continual stress is a major problem. Early in their career, people feel willing to take on extra work.

“But gradually, [...] they have diminished effectiveness, heightened anxiety, and greater feelings of depression.”

READ: Are Middle East construction employers addressing mental health?

The doctor likened the gradual accumulation of workplace stress to the adage about a frog in boiling water: if one gradually increases the temperature of the water, the frog will not notice it is being boiled alive. 

“Clinically, instead of seeking appropriate psychological help, people commonly start, for example, smoking heavily. They self-medicate for stress and people can get severely anxious and unwell as a result.”

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