How to Support Mental Health in the Construction Industry

construction worker with a cup of coffee
“With a thorough understanding of mental health and wellness, it’s possible to make safe workspaces for the mind the same way we make safe workspaces for the body.”

Working in construction brings plenty of risks, most of which can be mitigated by following proper safety procedures. Workers are encouraged to wear hard hats if something is likely to fall on their head, or they wear secured tethers if they’re working above the ground. Even office employees in construction can encounter unsafe physical conditions –but what can construction workers do about the problems that aren’t visible to everyone?

Although the industry has made great strides in removing the stigma around talking about mental health, there is still a lot to be done. Mental health problems often go undetected, which causes people to suffer in silence. Seasonal unemployment, long hours, and exhaustion can trigger mental health issues. Unfortunately, many workers are never diagnosed and treated, making the construction industry one of the top six occupations at risk for suicide according to a report published by the CDC.

With a thorough understanding of mental health and wellness, it’s possible to make safe workspaces for the mind the same way we make safe workspaces for the body. There are ways we can collaborate to bring awareness to depression, loneliness, and anxiety the same way we would for falls and equipment injuries. This can be done with new training initiatives, working closely with mental support services, and educating employees about the resources that could save their lives.

 

How Does Working in Construction Impact Mental Health?

– Seasonal work and possible layoffs

– A male-dominated, “tough” culture

– Expectation of overtime and working long hours

– Difficulty securing payment from clients and other stressors

– Physical exhaustion which can impact life outside of work

– Work-related injuries which can lead to chronic pain, psychological trauma and time off work

 

What You Can Do to Help

 

Encourage Discussion

Start a conversation about mental health. Talk about issues like stress management in your meetings. Be willing to mention the importance of self-care and living a healthy lifestyle. An employee’s emotional state has a big impact on their productivity and overall life satisfaction.

Point to Resources

Help employees detect mental health problems early. Encourage employees to access free online screening tools and provide in-service trainings with mental health professionals. Statistics show most people will seek treatment once they recognize they may have a problem.

Be Supportive

Support employee’s efforts to get help. Ensure an employee can get to therapy once a week during work hours and provide the workforce with an employee assistance program. With treatment, 65% to 80% of individuals with mental illness see improvements, so make sure you support people’s efforts to get the help they need.

All employers in the construction industry need to be willing to provide real and practical support to their workers. Job site workers might not feel comfortable speaking with their supervisor or their friends about their mental health problems, but when programs are put in place and access to mental health resources and help-lines are available, there’s a greater positive impact on the entire organization.

World Mental Health Day is observed every year on October 10th, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.  FINFROCK has resources available through our employee assistance program, as well as our insurance carrier for you and your dependents.  Make sure you consider all aspects of mental health (i.e., anxiety, depression, proper rest, managing stress, and substance abuse).  When you think of your overall mental health.