By: Mike Themanson, Vice President, Safety
This week, May 3rd through 7th, is Stand for Safety Week, and this year the construction industry is focusing on the topic of mental health. Mental health not only affects our overall well-being, but impacts how we make choices, handle stress, and relate to others, both on and off the job-site.
Why is Mental Health Important to Discuss?
When many people think of mental health, the first thing that comes to mind are more extreme elements, such as depression or psychological breakdowns. However, our mental health also includes our emotional and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and helps determine how we make choices and relate to others. Mental health is something everyone deals with, just as physical health is. It is important to normalize discussions about mental health in the workplace to arm everyone with the knowledge and tools needed to keep themselves and others safe.
One in five construction workers struggle with mental health issues and our industry has the second highest rate of suicide in the US. There are many factors that cause these statistics including pressure at work, stress due to time constraints, and ‘push through the pain’ mentality. Considering most people in the industry can relate to these situations and feelings, it is extremely important to work together to reduce stigma surrounding mental health. Make sure your co-workers know that these issues don’t make them weak, “crazy”, or not self-sufficient. By increasing awareness of the commonalities many people experience, stigma will be naturally reduced.
What can Construction Workers Do to Practice Mental Health Safety?
Practicing mental health safety is as important as every other safety measure we take on the jobsite. It is crucial that all workers be able to identify, understand and respond to signs that a co-worker may be struggling with mental health issues. Warning signs may include:
- Decrease in productivity
- Change in personality/behavior
- Increased conflict or confrontation with co-workers
- Near misses, hits, or other safety-related incidents
- Isolation withdrawal from others
- Uncharacteristic anxiousness, anger or mood swings
It is equally as important that individuals evaluate their own mental health regularly and recognize these warning signs.
Although, mental health among construction workers has always been a concern in the industry, stress surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to the mental health concerns of construction workers. More than ever, employers play a key role not only taking care of their employee’s physical health and safety, but also their mental health. This is a stressful event and everyone copes differently with the added tension, worry and confusion. Since the start of the pandemic, Clune has taken steps to ensure the mental health of our employees and subcontractors who for the past year, have been contending with fear of catching the virus, combined with the everyday pressures of working on a jobsite.
Clune urges anyone who is struggling with mental health issues to consult one or more of the following resources:
T2 Mood Tracker mobile app