Poor mental health is one of the biggest and often overlooked dangers in the construction sector. With so many construction safety tips around faulty equipment and fall protection, the invisible threat is a constantly ignored subject. Know that your construction workers are at a higher risk of suicide, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recognizing early signs of poor mental health is just as crucial as wearing the right PPE onsite. Take note of that. As a business owner, you must do everything in your power to protect your construction crew from any harm. Hence, you begin by promoting a culture of safety and raising mental health awareness in your company.
In this blog, we will share the importance of discussing mental health in your industry and some of the best tips to help you raise mental health awareness and build a mentally healthy culture for your construction employees.
What is Mental Health?
While it is one of the greatly affected industries, the truth is construction as a whole does not talk much about mental health issues. As a matter of fact, the topic is most likely looked down upon. With that being said, the majority of people in the industry might not be too aware of what mental health is really about.
Mental health is our psychological, emotional, and social well-being, significantly affecting how we feel, act, and think. It also determines how we handle too much stress, relate to others, make healthy decisions and choices, and more.
And here is another crucial distinction – mental health and mental illness are not identical, and the terms are not even interchangeable. So, if someone is experiencing poor mental health, it doesn’t mean they are going through a mental illness, and this is a particular aspect of mental health that the construction sector needs to recognize widely.
But Why Mental Health in The Construction Sector is Poor?
Before we take steps to raise awareness and further improve the mental health of the people within your organization, we need to identify first what the issues are. Multiple factors are most likely to contribute to more mental health concerns and higher suicide rates in the construction sector, including the following:
- Toughness and strength are valued, while mental health conditions and seeking help are seen as personal weaknesses.
- Male-dominated industry, with the majority of men experiencing the highest suicide rates
- Stigma and fear of consequences linked with mental health issues
- Chronic pain
- Shame and fear of judgment
- High stress and deadline drive work
- Seasonal and cyclical work contributes to family and financial strains
- Limited job controls and long work hours
- Separation of the family when working away from home
See how these signs are totally overlooked? In addition, almost everyone has this closed-off mindset that often causes the inability to acknowledge the signs of mental health distress. Make sure to be open-minded and to act first in establishing a healthier environment for your people.
How to Raise Mental Health Awareness in Your Construction Company?
In this section, we will finally share with you some actionable tips you can follow to bring mental health to the front of your overall workforce well-being and provide resources for you when facing a crisis.
1. Watch for the signs
The following warning signs indicate poor mental health conditions specific to construction workers, as defined by the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
- Increased conflicts with team members
- Decreased productivity
- Near hits, injuries, and incidents
- Decreased problem-solving ability
- Increased absenteeism and tardiness
Keeping an eye out for your crew members displaying the signs mentioned above can help raise awareness and help others stay safe. And whenever someone decides to talk, open the conversation with genuine empathy. Give your workers a moment to respond. And if they do not talk, then do not pressure them. Let your workers know you are there when they are ready to talk and you are ready to listen.
2. Educate your workforce about mental health
Provide resources to your crew members on recognizing the symptoms and signs of someone needing mental care support so that help will be offered. We already mentioned the signs and symptoms above, and we hope we made it clear. There is this urgent need to educate your employees on mental health, and you can begin addressing it in a campaign.
These programs can train your project management staff to look for and identify mental distress signs and how to perform personal check-ins and listening sessions. Even deploying the latest technologies like construction schedule management software can address such issues if everyone is willing to open up and become more transparent with what they are going through.
Certainly, great educational resources are available online and top-tier applications in the software market as mental health issues are becoming more prevalent in the sector.
3. Talk about it
Incorporate mental health topics into your daily team huddles, making them part of safety concerns. Consistently talking about issues like burnout and substance abuse shows your crew members you are concerned for their well-being and not afraid of giving empathy.
It might be harder to convince your crew to talk with their boss about matters outside of work. If this is the case, you can opt for a peer support group. You can also ask other crew members if they feel at ease leading these sensitive conversations.
Getting your construction team involved in this type of agenda fosters a sense of companionship among each other. You can level up the overall connection and communication between your crew members using construction crew management software – where the tool serves as a central platform for everybody and disclosing any information is easy, quick, and seamless.
4. Be proactive
Mental health never seems to be the problem until it is too late.
You know very well that your chosen business is quite tough to manage, and it comes with a range of underlying issues. Nonetheless, coming to work should not be one of the problems you must deal with. Just keep in mind that a positive work environment reduces workplace stress and aims for a positive, constructive, and progressive environment for your people.
We suggest you include a section in the employee handbook discussing mental health. Include prompts for tough conversation, local resources for additional assistance, and the following phone numbers for crisis help:
- Suicide and Crisis Lifeline = 988
- Alcoholics Anonymous hotline = 800-839-1689
- Substance Abuse Treatment and Referral = 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Always maintain transparent communication with your construction workforce because it is vital. Create an open space for dialogue, and you can start it all using the right crew schedule planning software that allows real-time communication between you and your crew members. Enabling real-time conversation among your team members help raises mental health awareness, eliminating doubts and promoting openness over one’s struggles.
5. Find the right balance
The construction industry is full of passionate people willing to exert effort to get the job done right away. But this level of dedication may sometimes blur the boundaries between personal life and work. As a result, it drastically affects mental health with potentially damaging consequences.
Orient your workforce about the importance of having the right balance of work and personal life. As a business leader, you can set a good example for them. Knowing that securing a good work-life balance is crucial to tackle stress and keeping everything in the right perspective.
6. Words are powerful in the culture you establish
Mental health concerns are often hidden from view, meaning one cannot know who is suffering in silence. Be gentle with the words you speak to your crew. Again, know that it always starts with you because you are the leader of the pack.
Moreover, using respectful language in the work environment positively impact your crew members, and everyone should put it into practice to prevent hurting anybody’s feelings. So, by developing a genuinely caring work environment, those crew members struggling with conditions are more likely to come forward and be open about the issues.
Start Building a Mentally Healthy Culture Now
The need to establish a caring and positive culture has already become a business essential for all types of industries, particularly in construction. A caring and empathetic culture are one in which a business leader like you reinforces the importance of your worker’s mental health and well-being. Keep in mind that your company should increasingly and continuously recognize its role in normalizing these conditions and breaking down all barriers to people accessing mental care.
So, where can you start? Of all the tips we shared with you above, encouraging open communication is one thing we are particular about. And it is a fact. Communication can make a difference.
Create an open communication channel using Pro Crew Schedule – the best time-tracking software for construction in the market. This sophisticated software is beneficial in your overall project management and operations and in managing your people, including their well-being. Its features can help you keep mental health resources on hand via the cloud-based platform. It allows you to upload, update and store important files that anyone can access anytime and anywhere.
Caring for your construction workforce is a major priority. Using the right tools like Pro Crew Schedule shows them that their well-being is always top of mind.