The construction industry is not immune to mental health issues. Far from it — male construction workers have the highest suicide rates of any industry in the U.S. In part one of this two-part article, Portland contractor lawyers at Cotney Construction Law discussed the reasons why the construction industry is so vulnerable to cases of anxiety, depression, and suicide. Now, we will discuss the steps that contractors and construction firms can take to combat this mental health epidemic. For those in distress and struggling with suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is free and available 24/7.
Fight the Tide
Tools like the above suicide prevention hotline could be what saves someone’s life, but they are no use to an employee that is embarrassed to utilize them. No one suffering from anxiety or depression should be made to feel shame. Raise up your workers that are in need. Don’t allow them to be torn down by the “tough guy” construction culture. A joke at the expense of a suffering employee or coworker could be what pushes them over the edge.
Start a Conversation
While you can’t force someone to come forward with their mental health issues, you can create a judgement-free work culture that encourages everyone to be honest and upfront with their problems. Take the initiative by bringing up mental health, stress management, and healthy lifestyle choices in meetings. Solutions to mental health issues will only be found together.
Admitting There Is a Problem
A mental health screening might seem intrusive, but it can help employees face problems that they were unaware of. Once they are aware that they need help and that it is readily available, a construction worker will be more willing to trust you with their mental health needs.
Once an employee comes to you with a mental health concern, you must do everything you can to provide them with the aid they need. Anxiety disorders and depression are treatable issues, so you must be flexible with work hours to allow employees time for therapy sessions. Create an employee benefit program to help employees with their mental and emotional well-being.
While these measures might seem unnecessary, especially if your employees are tight-lipped about their mental health, they can be instrumental in saving lives. Remember, a depressed and suicidal worker is a risk to themselves and everyone around them. No matter the safety concern, be it from a crumbling roof or a suicidal employee, it must be addressed head-on or it will lead to serious injury. Please consult with a Portland contractor lawyer to ensure that all laws are followed in the creation of a safe work environment for your workers.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.