Mental Health in Construction
These are trying times for construction workers and their families. The stress and anxiety are growing as more states are requiring non-essential employees work from home. At the same time, schools are closing, and families are being pushed to the limit with these pressures. The rising uncertainty will increase stress, anxiety and fear. Higher levels of these emotions can lead to depression.
Construction is a high-risk industry for mental health challenges, substance use disorders and suicide. It is important to have a safety net where no worker is left behind.
- The occupation with the highest suicide rate is Construction and Extraction with 52.1 deaths per 100,000 people, nearly 40% higher than the occupation with the second highest suicide rate.
Here are a few tips to help reduce the stress and anxiety during this unprecedented time.
- It is important to have a safety net where no worker is left behind. Supervisors and crews need to build a caring jobsite culture that helps promote respect and care for every worker. This is called psychological safety and it builds trust and a sense of belonging to a crew.
- During times of stress, workers are easily distracted, and safety lapses occur leading to higher incidents and injuries. Foremen are encouraged to hold daily safety huddles and take safety timeouts to keep crews focused on safe work.
- Encourage workers to talk to their families and loved ones. It is healthy to acknowledge one's fears and to discuss what is stressing you out, how it makes feel and why you're experiencing stress. Oftentimes, this venting is a stress reliever.
- Workers are encouraged to take time for self-care for themselves and for their families. Focus on some good healthy living basics:
- Eating nutritionally balanced meals at regular times
- Minimizing high caloric snacks and substitute "smart snacking" (fruits, vegetables, nuts, protein bars, etc)
- Staying properly hydrated with water and avoiding sugary sodas or energy drinks
- Enjoying outdoor walks and exercising (with physical distancing)
- Reducing alcohol intake and avoiding drugs
- Setting limits on watching news programs
- Sleeping well
As death rates in America soar from the mental health issues, stress and anxiety, and the Opioid crisis, it's important not to overlook suicide is rising in America and it's an issue that we would be remiss not to address.