The RIBA’s chief executive has urged practice bosses to prioritise their workers’ mental health after a stark poll showed four in 10 architects were suffering from declining mental health during the lockdown period
The institute’s survey of more than 400 working and student architects found that 39 per cent had seen their mental wellbeing deteriorate over the past two months.
Many in the profession have been working at home since 23 March when prime minister Boris Johnson imposed tight restriction on movement to control the coronavirus outbreak. Some have seen workloads tumble while others have been placed on furlough with reduced pay.
On top of this, with schools closed and the virus spreading, family responsibilities have built up.
RIBA chief Alan Vallance said he was concerned to see the ‘significant decline’ in mental health.
‘As lockdown restrictions ease, construction sites re-open and we establish new ways of working, we must prioritise our health and wellbeing – and those of our employees and colleagues – and seek support should we need to,’ he urged.
‘Practice leaders can help by promoting a healthy work-life balance.’
Three in four respondents to the poll were working entirely from home, with another 10 per cent ‘largely’ doing so. One in five said they felt isolated.
One in four people surveyed were taking on caring duties with schools closed.
More than half had reduced household income as a result of the crisis. One in seven had been furloughed, with 27 per cent on reduced hours. More than half had a reduced workload.
Sixty per cent of respondents said at least one of their project sites had closed, while delays to projects were reported by over 90 per cent.
One in five respondents said that the terms of the business rates relief scheme and self-employed income support scheme announced by the government left them unable to claim.
Days after putting the country into lockdown, ministers announced a £5 million grant for leading mental health charities, administered by Mind, to fund additional services for people struggling with their mental wellbeing during the period.
Vallance added: ‘We are here to help members navigate through and beyond this crisis. We are producing regular guidance in response to the profession’s key concerns and lobbying the government to support the sector both financially and as a key client.’
In a piece written for the AJ earlier this month, Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Forum co-founder Ben Channon offered three tips to help maintain mental health and a sense of wellbeing during the ongoing crisis.