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A 2020 study by the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan showed that 83% of people in the construction industry have dealt with some form of mental health struggle. It can be difficult on jobsites to identify mental health struggles; therefore, they typically go unreported. In construction, where workers are often praised for being “tough” or “strong,” this culture can also contribute to workers and employers not recognizing the issue or seeking the proper help. There are several ways construction firms can fight the mental health stigma while providing the proper support their employees need.

Providing robust benefits

There has been extra pressure put on construction workers during and post-pandemic. With the ongoing labor shortage, companies have had to rely more heavily on their employees. Construction is an extremely physically demanding job that can lead to a higher rate of stress. When additional strain is put on the body, workers can become more susceptible to a variety of unhealthy coping mechanisms and at a greater risk for injury. These factors can increase the likelihood of a jobsite accident. If an accident does occur, this could cause financial stress to the worker and affect their mental health. Creating a full coverage benefits plan can reduce the fear of missing work due to injury and increase employee satisfaction and retention by providing a sense of job security.

Learn how to identify stressors

Long-lasting mental illness can affect an employee’s ability to function day to day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the construction industry has one of the highest rates of suicide. It’s important for employers to identify how a work environment can affect a worker’s mental health and well-being. It can be difficult to spot some of the factors in the workplace, such as chronic pain, sleep deprivation, stress and burnout. Other effects can include drastic changes in mood or personality, risk-taking behavior, difficulty concentrating or staying still and being sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks. Seasonal layoffs or tough deadlines can put additional strain on workers and their families and, therefore, could contribute to the state of workers’ mental health.

Create a culture of wellness

A good way for companies to combat mental health struggles in the construction industry would be to have wellness initiatives or programs such as mental health first aid training, stress management webinars or consistent communication campaigns. Providing useful opportunities to recognize mental health can create a better environment for workers to feel comfortable asking for additional support. Normalizing therapy and other support programs can reduce the stigma around mental health in construction. Companies should encourage employees to seek help from a professional from an in-network provider or educate them on Employee Assistance programs. Working side-by-side with employees to create a plan to prevent any problems from worsening will reassure them of leadership support.

Construction workers’ health—physical and mental—is essential in their role. Support for employees’ mental health can improve job satisfaction, increase employee retention and reduce employer health care costs. Employers should work on preventing the potential mental health crisis instead of dealing with the after-effects. The best outcomes for mental health come when people get assistance as soon as possible—and that starts with workplaces getting rid of the stigma.

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