Safety and Emotional Wellness Matter in Construction
- May 23, 2023
An interview on mental and emotional wellness with Cal Beyer
We want to change perceptions about mental health awareness at Beck. The first step in making that happen is discussing the topic openly and honestly year-round. We plan to raise awareness through content like this interview with Cal Beyer to show our commitment to mental health and emotional wellness.
Cal is a long-time advocate for mental health in construction. He recently spoke to Elizabeth Haynie, our Health & Wellness Benefits Manager, about our industry’s connection between safety and emotional wellness. Keep reading for insights from their conversation.
Part II – Promoting Mental Wellbeing at Work
What are the “3 Vs.” of workplace mental health for leaders?
I believe in leaders at every level. The 3 Vs. for leaders applies to formal and informal leaders being visible, vocal, and vulnerable about mental health.
- Visible: supporting mental health in company meetings and sharing resources in written and digital formats.
- Vocal: expressing support that it is ok not to be ok and that help is available to encourage others to assist co-workers and family members.
- Vulnerable: sharing how mental health has impacted them or their family and how they sought and received help reinforces hope that recovery is possible.
Where there is support for workplace mental health from formal leaders, informal leaders on jobsites are more likely to take the initiative. The 3Vs reinforce psychological safety and create a safe environment where workers look out for one another.
What can someone do to support mental health on their team or jobsite?
Supporting jobsite mental health and emotional wellbeing starts by being a quality crewmate, welcoming and respectful to all workers.
Ask your colleague if they’re ok, especially if you recognize they are not their usual self. Asking someone privately if they’re ok or letting them know you’re there for them if they need help lets others know they’re not alone and that someone cared enough to notice they’re not themselves.
Lastly, it’s important to be open-minded to new Toolbox Talks or Safety Stand-Downs on mental health during Construction Safety Week.
We hear about “holistic” approaches to supporting mental health. What does that mean, and what can we do to achieve it?
“Holistic” health examines how the body and mind are interconnected. Holistic health usually includes integrating nutrition, hydration, exercise, sleep, and mindfulness practices, including deep breathing, journaling, yoga, prayer, or meditation.
It aims to build resilience among individuals and even teams/crews. Resilience is learning how to recognize the warning signs of stress and learn techniques to counter or control the stressors. Think of it as bending but not breaking under pressure and learning to overcome adversity.
What advice would you give someone who notices a friend, family member, or teammate is struggling?
Have “the” conversation. It may not be easy to start. Heck, it may even be awkward. The sooner you have the conversation, the sooner that person can seek help. I recommend finding a private place to talk to avoid others overhearing and to respect privacy.
- Use simple, heartfelt language like, “I care about you and am concerned you might be struggling. I’m here to listen or help in any way possible.” Even with that opening, you’re likely to hear, “I’m fine,” to which you can respond, “You don’t seem fine. You haven’t been yourself lately, and I want to support you. I’m not judging you and am available if you need me.”
- If they are not ready to talk, say: there’s other help out there. Call 988 or text the Crisis Text Line. I care too much about you not to have this conversation. If you change your mind, call me day or night.
- Please engage in dialogue not relating to them seeking or accepting help. It shows you care and are there for them. Look for future opportunities to try again to offer support.
What resources do you recommend to people if they want to find additional support for themselves or someone else?
Employees should start with their primary care physician or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP provides confidential support to employees. Additional support is available by calling or texting 988, the relatively new 3-digit Suicide and Crisis Hotline that provide free, confidential support 24/7. Crisis Text Line is another free service accessible by texting HELP to 741741.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is great for families with loved ones with mental illness who need education or support. It has a chapter in every state and affiliate branches in various locations throughout most states.
For families seeking support as survivors of suicide, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides bereavement support and other services.
This is the second part of Cal’s and Elizabeth’s interview. To read the first installment, click here.