The construction industry is faced with a mental health crisis. It affects construction workers more than any other workers in any other industry.
This is a threat not only to productivity levels, but, more importantly, to the health and safety of our employees and coworkers. Poor mental health can lead to substance abuse, and even suicide. As employers, we need to address this issue as best we can.
We’ll discuss the role of employers in construction’s mental health crisis and some ways employers can use this influence to go about helping employees.
First, let’s talk briefly about the mental health crisis in construction. We know that mental health problems affect construction workers to a large extent, but in order to address it, we first need to know why.
One of the main reasons is that working in construction is an extremely stressful occupation. Working in an environment where you may fear accidents, injuries, or even death can take a huge toll on the mental well-being of a person and can often lead to substance abuse, not to mention the scheduling and pressures from above.
Another reason is that most construction workers are men. Men are less likely to report or deal with mental health problems due to the stigmas attached to them. This is especially worrying when you consider that a study found that 83% of construction workers have experienced a mental health issue at some point in their careers.
So, it’s clear that the mental health crisis in construction is certainly one that needs intervention. Employers are tasked with the responsibility of keeping their employees safe. And this certainly extends to mental health, too.
Every action has a reaction. This couldn’t be more true than in the case of employers and employees. Employees often look to their superiors for guidance, advice, and a model for behavior. They also count on employers to a large extent to ensure their safety and well-being.
So, it is inevitable that the way an employer does things is going to affect how an employee thinks, feels, and acts. Feedback and recognition can vastly change how your employees view you, their job, and their working environment. Your attitude is also crucial.
And, of course, the way you treat your employees will always have bearing on their mental state. It is clear, then, that the role of employers is a good place to start when trying to deal with the mental health crisis in construction.
As we’ve touched on, workers will often look to their superiors as a model for behavior. So, a good thing to do when addressing the mental health crisis is to model the kind of behaviors that keep many mental health problems at bay or under control.
For example, you may show your employees that you are practicing healthy habits such as exercising, going to therapy, or eating well. It’s no secret that these things can kickstart a happier lifestyle, so this is a win-win.
A healthy, happy working environment is just as important as healthy outside behaviors. When people feel a sense of mutual trust, understanding, and communication with each other, they are far more likely to work hard and feel content.
So, promoting a workplace whereby employees are regularly checked up on and communicated with can make the world of difference to their mental states.
You may even try establishing ways for them to connect socially with one another, thus building relationships and trust.
In order to reduce the stigma, you need to be vulnerable. Show your workers that there should be no shame in struggling with mental health problems nor asking for help and guidance. As an employer, show that you are human and relatable too.
Try opening up lines of communication whereby employees can report their struggles without fear of judgment. Employers need to show their workers that they are willing to help them with these problems just as they would help them with any others.
This is a very important role that you can take as an employer. You can promote flexibility and well-being by encouraging your employees to use their vacation time. Make sure they give themselves time out to relax and take a break as often as they can.
Flexible timetables, fair compensation and leave, and substantial lunch breaks are all crucial to the good mental health of your construction workers. In essence, try to reduce stress levels as much as possible. This can actually increase productivity when it’s done right!
The last and arguably most crucial role you can take as an employer is to provide mental health coverage and training. This is because mental health problems are often genetically predetermined . Thus, they cannot be rectified by changing the workplace alone.
Instead, employers may find that offering mental health coverage as a benefit can really aid employees in gaining access to help and reducing the stigma.
Mental health training, too, is a great option for increasing awareness and allowing for education and open discussion.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
As employers, we have the responsibility to look out for our employees, and this extends to their mental well-being.
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