Reducing the Stigma Around Mental Health in Construction

  • May 26, 2020

By Elizabeth Haynie, Health and Wellness Benefits Manager

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Now more than ever, in this time of uncertainty caused by COVID-19, we must join the conversation on mental health and substance misuse to support one another and our industry because mental health struggles impact more people than you may think.

Construction Industry at Risk for Mental Health Challenges

In America, one in five adults experience a mental illness, and 17 percent of youth ages six to 17 experience a mental health disorder. Those in the construction industry are at particular risk due to the high pressure and high-risk environment, long travel, and physical demands of the job.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists construction as one of the careers with the highest suicide rate and substance abuse. Half of all construction workers will experience a diagnosable mental health problem.

What gets in the way of understanding and treatment is stigma, myths, and stereotypes. The average delay between symptom onset and treatment is 11 years! Some fear others treating them differently and judgment.

Reducing Stigma to Provide Support

The first step in reducing stigma and providing support is acknowledging what mental health and substance misuse look like, how to talk about it, and what helps. By promoting a supportive culture, and saying, “It’s ok not to feel ok,” we can reduce stigma and empower others to seek help without fear.

It’s also ok to talk about suicide. Talking about it may save a life – 90 percent of people who die by suicide had shown symptoms of a mental health condition, according to interviews with family, friends, and medical professionals. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 to 34.

Leading The Conversation

There is transformative power in talking about this issue openly and boldly. This month the Beck Group is starting a conversation supporting this cause, and it will continue year-round.

We are hosting education sessions for employees and their families, sending emails with mental health information and resources. We also pledged to STAND up for suicide prevention.

Office and jobsite staff will receive wallet cards that share warning signs and crisis resources. Suicide prevention posters are on display at all of our jobsites. We’re also including mental health in our safety orientation presentations and adding mental health Toolbox Talks.

Mental Health Resources

Talking about mental health and implementing a suicide prevention program can be daunting. Fortunately, we don’t have to make this journey alone. There are many resourceful and supportive organizations out there to help.

NAMI is a national organization with over 500 local affiliates, and they provide free education programs (many online), support groups, and resources.

The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention has a goal of creating a zero suicide industry and offers education, print materials, and videos. Through May 29th, they are offering the 60-minute LivingWorks Start online suicide prevention training at no cost.

Mental health can be a difficult subject to bring up with men in particular, but has found a way to present information and resources in a creative, approachable way.

Additional resources include:

Take a Stand

We hope you consider taking part this month as we shine a light on mental health and STAND up for suicide prevention. If you do, use #STANDupforSuicidePrevention to help spread the word. Together, we can create an open, supportive culture for mental health and eliminate the stigma that surrounds it.