Neighbouring construction work is impacting the mental health of those confined indoors because of the pandemic, as they endure hours of relentless noise and vibrations, according to the Richmond Foundation.

Over the past weeks, the foundation’s helpline received calls from people saying that neighbouring excavation and construction works were having a negative effect on their mental health, said Stephania Dimech Sant, the chief executive of the foundation that offers support to people with mental health problems as well as their families.

Over the past four weeks the foundation’s support line 1770 received around 500 calls – around 15 of which were related to construction.

“From our national survey… only 2.7 per cent of people call a helpline. So that might suggest that those 15 are the tip of the iceberg,” Dimech Sant said.

One must also keep in mind that not everyone lives next door to a construction site but everyone is experiencing the virus pandemic.

The survey she referred to, carried out in collaboration with market research company Esprimi, consisted of a study among 1,064 individuals to try to put under the spotlight the impact the virus could be having on people as they adapt to spending long hours indoors.

Creating an additional psychological burden over and above the one they are experiencing

It showed that almost half the respondents, 47 per cent, said they were feeling depressed most of the time and 48 per cent of them often experienced a sense of apathy.

“People are already experiencing mental health issues due to the coronavirus pandemic… What we can say is that ongoing construction works add another layer to this. Apart from the noise, there are the vibrations and people were worried about their safety, given that they have no choice but to stay at home,” she said.

“There is a sense of insecurity and discomfort. This is creating an additional psychological burden over and above the one they are experiencing.”

Meanwhile, well-known television presenter and producer Clare Agius – who is known to advocate the importance of mental well-being – called for a balance to be struck to safeguard mental well-being.

“We know for a fact that anxiety is already high among all citizens. So while it is understood that construction is one of the sectors that may continue to operate, consideration should be given to the duration of hours on a daily basis,” Agius said.

She noted that noise pollution has been known to highly impact mental well-being, so with more people being asked to stay at home the whole day, there is no escape from it, she added.

Last week, Health Minister Chris Fearne said the Richmond Foundation support line – 1770 – was open to people experiencing mental health pro- blems in light of the corona-virus pandemic.

The devastation that can come from construction-related incidents is still fresh in the mind of the public.

Just over a month ago, mother-of-two Miriam Pace was killed when her ─Žamrun home collapsed onto a building site. The incident happened on the afternoon of March 2.

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