Construction can be dangerous work. Yet, according to OSHA statistics, construction workers are five times more likely to die from suicide than from the “Fatal Four” of falls, electrocution, struck by, or caught in/between. The stigma of mental illness, burnout, and workplace stress have created a crisis of mental health in construction.
As a male-dominated industry, construction has had a pervasive attitude of machoism, of unbending toughness and stoicism, that can prevent a worker struggling with stress or thoughts of suicide from reaching out for help. The pandemic, and resulting workforce and supply shortages, have increased the intensity of mental health issues, even for women construction workers.
According to EHS Today, “Nearly 60% of construction workers reported struggling with mental health but only a third said they would communicate this to their employers.” Often, those struggling will instead self-medicate with alcohol or drugs or other unhealthy behaviors. Beyond the implications for the individual, this can increase the incidence of accidents and decrease productivity for the company. That’s why supporting mental health in construction is vital for both the construction worker and the employer.
What can employers do to improve mental health in construction?
A healthy workforce (physically, mentally, and emotionally) can increase workplace stability, reduce accidents, and improve productivity, as well as enhance overall company culture. Here are a few ways employers can improve mental health in construction:
What can you do?
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline right away to speak with a trained professional.
NAWIC chapters provide an important support network for women in construction. This includes building peer connections and providing education on topics of interest, including mental health in construction. For more details, reach out to your local chapter. NAWIC members can also find mental health wellbeing information in the member portal of the NAWIC National website.
Looking for more?
Check out these resources for additional information:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP)
?American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
A Construction Company Embraces Frank Talk About Mental Health To Reduce Suicide
The National Association of Women in Construction has 118 chapters across the United States, and affiliates across the globe. Women in construction join NAWIC for support, mentorship, education, and leadership opportunities. Membership is open to any woman working in construction. To learn more, contact us through social media or our website.