Workplaces play an important role in the mental health and wellbeing of their workers. There’s satisfaction in working as a team and building environments that people appreciate. We take pride in what we do, but let’s face it, there is also a lot of stress in construction.
Why Construction is Stressful?
- It is highly competitive. There are many high-risk environments and pressure on workers to not only work safely, but complete projects within a deadline.
- Lots of travel. There is a lack of community when traveling for work. Workers will often travel for hours to get to and from sites.
- Seasonal unemployment. During the winter months, trades and constructions sites are not as active.
- Long hours and long commutes lead to physical & mental exhaustion.
- Chronic physical pain. In addition to the many hours spent on the road, working in a construction site is physically taxing on the body. Workers may have to work with heavy machinery and require vigorous exertion of their bodies.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of working adults were estimated to have a mental disorder in 2019. Of those workers, it was estimated that many of the stressors at work may be related to inflexible hours or lack of control over the amount of work required amongst staff.
MindWise recently conducted a study to better understand mental health, substance misuse, and suicide in the construction industry. A major finding was that even if individuals want to talk about mental health, they often don’t know how. A national study found that 60% of employees who experience mental health issues have never spoken about it to anyone at work.
What is Behavioral Health?
Behavioral Health includes mental health and substance misuse and can range from strong well-being to significant emotional and behavioral struggles.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health refers to emotional, psychological, and cognitive functioning. The most common mental health problems are anxiety and depression, although mood disorders like bipolar and eating disorders are also mental health issues. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a specific type of anxiety that happens after people experience a traumatic event, such as physical or sexual assault, witnessing violence, or experiencing suicide.
What is a Substance Misuse?
Substance Misuse refers to using alcohol and/or drugs in a way that is excessive and interferes with relationships or the ability to get work done. People may have alcohol or drug problems whether they misuse on a regular basis or binge use a few times a year in a way that is dangerous or harmful to themselves or others. For example, driving while intoxicated, aggressive actions toward others, putting a child, family member or friend’s life at risk, are all examples of dangerous behaviors.
What does depression, anxiety, and trauma look like?
Depression, Anxiety, and Trauma may look different on everyone so it’s important for us to know the signs:
- Irritated mood
- Loss of interest in activities
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Physical problems or pain
- Feeling worthless
- Feeling guilty for no reason
- Poor concentration
- Thinking of suicide
- Feeling nervous, tense or restless
- Worrying much of the time
- Sense of impending danger
- Chronic or severe fatigue
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased heart rate
- Trembling, sweating
- Headaches, GI trouble
- Shock, denial, or disbelief
- Confusion, difficulty concentrating
- Anger, irritability, mood swings
- Anxiety and fear
- Guilt, shame, self-blame
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling sad or hopeless
- Feeling disconnected/numb
To ensure all workers feel safe in their workplaces, it is useful to follow the ACT method:
The ACT Method
Acknowledge that you’ve noticed a change in demeanor or mood.
Care by reminding them that you are there for them.
Talk about information and resources. Ask how you can help.
Essential Tips for a Helpful Response: The ACT Method
Knowing what to say to someone who might be struggling with depression or anxiety isn’t easy. While you may feel awkward and unsure at first, know that whatever you say doesn’t have to be perfect or profound. The important thing is to express your care and concern in a genuine and nonjudgmental way.
Additional Tips to Discuss Mental Health
Don’t be discouraged by the fear of saying something wrong. When people are struggling, they often feel isolated, but knowing someone cares, especially at work, helps us all feel less alone.
- The best way to start a conversation is to use your own words and be direct. If you are not sure where to start, use the ACT method as a guide.
- Letting your coworker know you’re there when they’re ready to talk can be meaningful and supportive to someone.
- Pay attention to your verbal and nonverbal behaviors and continue to listen before speaking throughout the conversation.