Where guys go for help

23 Mar 2020


Andy Walmsley

Massey University doctoral student Andy Walmsley


A study looking to understand how men in construction seek help for mental health issues has garnered more than 600 responses from workers across the industry.

With support from not-for-profit health and safety organisation Site Safe, researcher Andy Walmsley is studying how men in the industry seek out help when they are having a tough time.

“In an industry where toughness is prized, very few men are willing to admit they are doing it tough emotionally or struggling with their mental health.

“Men within the New Zealand construction industry are less likely to seek help from a counsellor or psychologist, because of masculine gender roles, such as self-reliance and independence.”

 And that raises questions about how services reach men and how to make it easier for them to get help when they need it.

“Do we change men? Or do we change the services to match men’s needs?”

He is also investigating how men look for help and what works.

“These include shoulder-to-shoulder interventions such as mental health support through sport and fitness, men’s sheds, and workshops.”

The study is also looking at what men think about getting help through a family doctor, employee assistance programme (EAP) services, and psychological services.

He says it’s the workmates on the building site that can help the most, or they can make it much harder for a person who’s suffering from poor mental health to get help. It all depends on their attitudes and what they say about mental health.

This includes different ways of having conversations about mental health, support services which men feel comfortable recommending to a work colleague, and strategies for supervisors to target mental health during site meetings.

The study, which will be submitted as a Massey University doctoral thesis, will be released in the next year and will include practical tips on improving mental health in the construction industry.

For more resources on mental health in the construction industry, visit: