Although it’s not always talked about, mental health issues and suicide are highly prevalent in the construction industry. In fact, the number of suicides in the construction industry is 3 times higher than the US average. In this post, we’re sharing a few tips to improve mental health in construction.
Why is mental health important in construction?
At Safety International, we help our clients with all aspects of physical safety and protection to keep their workers safe on the job. However, the mental health of your workers also needs to be safeguarded and is not a topic to be ignored.
The nature of the construction industry can often impact mental health and well-being from:
- Long working hours
- Strenuous physical labor
- Male dominated culture
- Workplace injuries leading to chronic pain
- Seasonal layoffs
These factors can be a major source of stress, which can in turn lead to substance abuse, depression, and addiction. Workers suffering from mental health issues are often more susceptible to accidents on the job. For workers to be productive, we must promote overall health and well being and provide resources to employees that need assistance.
Tips to improve mental health in construction
Consider implementing these tips to improve mental health in the construction industry.
1. Make mental health a part of the plan
Mental health and well being should be an aspect of your overall safety plan. It’s something that should be incorporated from the top down and emphasized by management.
Take time to think about the steps you can take now to improve the overall health and well being of your workers. Simply letting workers know where they can go for help can make a big difference. This can be done by postings signs around the workplace or sharing online resources.
2. Create a safe space for talking about mental health
It’s also important for companies to create a safe space for talking about mental health. Incorporate mental health discussions into your safety trainings, team meetings, and toolbox talks, and let employees know who in your organization they can talk to.
When employees feel supported and heard, they are more likely to talk openly about any issues they are facing. This will allow you to address any issues upfront and in a supportive manner.
3. Incorporate mental health benefits into your company culture
Another option is to incorporate mental health benefits into your HR policies such as online or in-person counseling and support groups. Prospective and existing employees will appreciate that you care about their mental health. Plus, taking a proactive approach to mental health will only help you instead of being reactive if a situation were to occur.
It’s also important to promote work life balance by encouraging employees to take mental health breaks if needed and use their vacation time. Be proactive and plan ahead around construction project timelines to allow for employees to take time off to rest and rejuvenate.
4. Stay educated and alert
Conduct regular trainings centered around mental health. Educate team members on the warnings signs such as decreased productivity, tardiness, increased conflict, tardiness, and isolation.
You’ll also want to stay current on the latest mental health education so you are not providing outdated information or resources. When everyone is more aware and knows who they can go to for help, this promotes a safe environment for all.
5. Consider offering mental health first aid
In order to promote mental health awareness in the workplace, many accredited training programs have been developed. Consider offering a mental health first aid course to your workers, which is a skills based training course that educates participants about mental health and substance use issues.
The goal of these trainings is to promote awareness, reduce the stigma, and teach workers how to recognize and address someone that may be facing a mental health or substance use challenge.
I hope this article was helpful in promoting awareness on the importance of mental health in construction. It’s important to stay alert and informed to protect your workers overall well-being. Should you need any assistance with your health and safety programs, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.