The Role of Associations: Construction’s Mental Health Crisis



Construction’s mental health crisis is very real. There are many factors that contribute to mental health issues, however construction workers don't have it easy to begin with. Mental health issues are often experienced by people working in the construction industry due to things like stressful environments, poor diets, social stigmas, and often a lack of understanding and communication around mental health.


There are dozens of associations across the United States dedicated to helping the cause. We’ll discuss the roles of some of these associations and how they can alleviate pressures, encourage communication, and promote awareness.


The Mental Health Crisis In Construction


Dubbed the ‘silent killers’, suicide and mental illness in the construction industry are prevalent. However, it is often misunderstood or disregarded. This is because deaths in the construction industry are often attributed to unsafe or dangerous working conditions.


However, the fact is that around 60% of construction workers report a struggle with mental health. What’s more, the CDC reports that the construction industry has the highest suicide rate of all industries. It’s clear that although the issue has been recognized, it is still in dire need of intervention.


Fortunately, there are a number of ways that this crisis is being dealt with. Trade unions, standards organizations, and associations are all working hard to bring these problems to light and rectify them as well.


Let’s talk a bit about construction associations and what they do.


Construction Associations


There are many associations in the United States that dedicate themselves to improving the quality of the construction industry. They aim to protect workers and identify and resolve problems that may arise in the industry.


Some examples of these associations include:

  • AGC (Associated General Contractors of America)

  • NUCA (National Utility Contractors Association)

  • CMAA (Construction Management Association of America)

With different mission statements and goals, these associations all have one thing in common. That is: the desire to improve the industry.


There are also some associations dedicated solely to the crisis at hand, like the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. Then, there is the well-known CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), which also focuses a lot on mental health issues in the construction industry as well as how to combat them.


The Role Of Associations In The Mental Health Crisis


Alleviating Pressures


One of the things that associations dedicate themselves to is alleviating the pressures and stressors of the construction environment. They can do this by improving upon safety measures and regulations. In addition, they need to ensure that workers and employees adhere to these safety measures.


Unsafe working conditions can lead to injuries and even death. However, it’s important to remember that the very stress of working under these conditions can also take a huge toll on the mental state of your employees.


NUCA is one of the many associations that offers safety training and workshops. This is extremely important because many mental health issues in the industry are caused by work stress. This stress decreases significantly in a safe environment.


Encouraging Communication

A more direct way that associations deal with the mental health crisis in the construction industry is to encourage communication and dialogue about these problems. If something is swept under the rug and disregarded (as mental health issues so often are), it only exacerbates the problem.


AGC has a fantastic way of encouraging communication about mental health among construction workers. They have a video and web page that gives loads of resources and advice on how to build wellness programs with impact.


Their mission is to encourage a culture of caring and prevention by starting a conversation about this crisis. The more people speak about it, the less the stigma attached to it will be. Ultimately, this will mean that employees will be far more likely to communicate their issues to their superiors and coworkers without fear of judgment.


Raising Awareness


Finally, associations realize the importance of raising awareness about the mental health crisis in construction.


The CDC constantly publishes statistics and resources that inform and educate about mental health issues and suicide in the construction industry.


There is also the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. It has an entire website dedicated to promoting awareness of this critical problem.


As associations raise awareness and provide education, more people will realize that the construction industry is facing a dire crisis. In turn, associations and organizations will be able to provide more resources and support for those in the construction industry.


It will become easier for workers to get the help they need. Moreover, employers will realize the importance of providing workers with mental health support.


It all comes down to recognizing the problem and taking steps (however seemingly small) to intervene and prevent problems before they become serious.


Final Thoughts


The problem of mental health issues is one that permeates the culture of the construction industry.


It’s important to keep in mind, then, that a culture of safety doesn’t just mean safety from injuries like falling off of scaffolding or inhaling harmful chemicals. It is also about keeping people safe from mental health issues that can be avoided by reducing stressors and promoting a healthy and safe working environment.


For mental illnesses that cannot be avoided or prevented, communication and awareness is key. The more people can talk about and learn about their problems, the better they will feel.


SkillSignal is here to help. You can use our documents feature to assign toolbox talks on mental health, substance abuse, and much more. You can even take it a step further and assign training resources in the form of videos that all workers must complete before starting work. Are you interested in learning more? Contact us today at: 917-745-6877 or info@skillsignal.com.


Read More About the Mental Health Crisis in Construction Here:


1- Suicide and Depression in the Construction Industry


2- Tackling Mental Health in Construction


3- How to Combat Addiction and Alcohol Abuse in the Construction Industry


Reference list

https://www.westfieldhealth.com/resources/divided-together-report

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p1115-Suicide-american-workers.html

https://www.agc.org

http://www.nuca.com/

https://www.cmaanet.org

https://preventconstructionsuicide.com

https://www.cdc.gov

https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2020/09/09/suicide-in-construction/

https://www.nuca.com/content.asp?contentid=166

https://www.agc.org/news/2021/03/02/mental-health-suicide-prevention-construction-how-build-wellness-programs-impact

https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2020/09/09/suicide-in-construction/

https://preventconstructionsuicide.com/Build_Awareness


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