The Prince of Wales quizzed construction workers about their mental health during their lunch break when he visited a major building site in the capital.
William chatted to a group of carpenters and a supervisor when he visited their on-site canteen after touring the development in a hard-hat, high visibility jacket and protective glasses.
Construction workers face a higher risk of suicide than those from other sectors, with rates in the industry more than three times higher than the national average, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
When William first arrived at the building site in Acton, west London, where a Microsoft data centre is being built, he said: “I imagine construction is quite a male dominated environment, that’s a hard-to-reach group.”
Global construction firm Mace is building the project for Microsoft and William heard about initiatives the firm is running in partnership with Mates In Mind, a leading UK charity raising awareness and addressing the stigma of poor mental health.
It is thought a range of issues contribute to poor mental health on building sites, from workers employed away from home and so left isolated, pressure from construction deadlines, and the masculine culture where men do not talk about their feelings.
When William visited the canteen where workers were enjoying a lunch break, he asked a group of men if they “talk about mental health?” adding “mental fitness, is that something you relate to?”.
Supervisor Edward Xhafa, 43 said after speaking to the prince: “Everywhere you look there is pressure but we talk about it a lot.
“We look after each other, we communicate with each other and there are sessions here every week where you’re able to talk through everything.”