Construction mental health for 2023 means being aware of the risks your male workers face. In 2022, nearly 20% of adults are experiencing a mental illness, that’s about 50 million Americans. But for males, the risks of mental health could be even worse. A recent survey showed nearly half of the male respondents scored above the threshold for probable major depression. It is a trend researchers have tracked over the past decade. And this trend has a direct impact on construction mental health for 2023.
Research by the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan, a Canadian organization, found that 83% of construction workers north of the border have experienced some form of moderate to severe mental health issue, while here in the US CDC data indicates that the construction industry has the second highest rate of employee suicide.
How Construction’s Working Conditions Affect Mental Health
Being aware of construction mental health for 2023 starts with understanding why construction work is a breeding ground for worker mental health issues. There are several key factors that can contribute to construction industry mental health issues, some related specifically to the physicality of the work, including:
- Long workdays
- Difficult, tiring labor
- Pain from injury or overuse
Injury and chronic pain—which are common in construction based on the nature of the work—can actually contribute to employees’ anxiety, stress and depression, conditions that lead to distraction and lack of focus that are an antecedent to workplace injuries. It becomes a vicious and unrelenting circle unless both physical and psychological well-being are addressed as part of workplace safety protocols.
How You Can Support Construction Mental Health for 2023
Your workers spend at least a third of their day on the job, which gives employers an opportunity to both recognize mental health issues and support their employees.
Learn About Mental Health Risk Factors
Every type of mental illness has its own symptoms but there are some common warning signs in adults that companies can be aware of:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (“lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
Provide Mental Health Treatment Options
Below are some key ways how employers can help support construction mental health for 2023.
- Encourage full use of paid time off and sick days. Encouraging time is one of the best ways to foster mental health among workers. Make sure your workers take the time off they need to recharge and heal.
- Break the silence surrounding mental health. A study revealed that one in ten employees said they’d been thinking of harming themselves or others, and 47% said they had received no words of support from employers in recent months. Open communication about mental health, especially from company leaders, helps remove the stigma from the topic so that workers feel less shame discussing their struggles, and are more apt to seek help.
- Include an employee assistance program (EAP) in your benefits offering. EAPs typically cost around $20 a year per employee. EAPs are usually offered together with health insurance and provide free, confidential counseling to any employee in work-related or personal distress. With EAPs, employees can simply pick up the phone rather than researching the right therapist, making an appointment or worrying about copays. EAPs offer a limited number of sessions, but their counselors can refer employees to continued therapy if necessary.
- Ensure your benefits offerings are easily accessible to employees. Employees who must rifle through reams of paperwork to register for benefits, or seek out an HR representative with every question, may be deterred from signing up or using their health benefits—especially if they’re already feeling anxious or depressed. Benefits management software provides an employee portal where workers can log in to compare and choose healthcare plans, check on coverage details, and more.
Supporting mental health among your workers is essential to reducing absenteeism and maintaining productivity. Employers can help by being open and direct about mental illness, as well as offering health benefits that give them access to additional support.