The stigma surrounding mental health discussions has disappeared over the years, but sometimes crucial conversations still don’t happen. People may be afraid to ask for help or unable to mitigate symptoms that make life difficult. Workplace leadership plays a significant role in helping team members with these issues.
Keep reading to learn how to support mental health in the construction industry to make the environment healthier for everyone.
1. Encourage PTO Days
Mental exhaustion often starts with physical labor. Construction workers are working hard on their feet all day, lifting heavy materials and operating machinery. Their work keeps cities functioning, so people in leadership positions often fall into the habit of pushing their team members harder to beat deadlines.
The physical demands will strain a person’s mental stamina and leave them more vulnerable to anxiety or depression. If management encourages people to take paid time off (PTO) to rest and recharge, construction workers will return to work in a better frame of mind.
2. Make an Inclusive Environment
Work environments have a significant impact on a person’s mental wellness. As of 2020, women made up 9.1% of the construction industry, pointing to an extreme gender imbalance that fosters environmental strains like sexism. Proactively reducing and eliminating these issues could be one of the most powerful mental health improvements in the construction industry.
People are less likely to feel depressed or struggle with their mental health if they feel included and valued. Gender equality and anti-discrimination training are just a few ways the industry can become more inclusive and reduce the adverse mental health effects for minority groups.
3. Reduce On-Site Injury Risks
While construction is a rewarding and diverse career, it does come with more physical risks than a desk job. Construction professionals operate machinery while physically exhausted, but getting medical attention for their injuries often worsens their mental health. Unfortunately, workplace accidents can sometimes lead to addictions for construction workers because they become reliant on prescription medications to get back to work. While this is a failure of the system, not the profession, we can reduce this likelihood and protect construction workers by making the workplace safer to start with.
Any actions that reduce the chances of injury protect construction workers from crises that lead to job loss or addictions. Enforcing breaks and establishing more safety protocols are just a few ways to reduce injuries and improve everyone’s overall health.
4. Establish the First Connection
Many people will get professional mental health assistance if they know where to find it. People in leadership positions can create a resource that establishes the first connection by listing therapy offices that accept your workplace’s health insurance. Include the contact information in weekly or monthly emails to encourage team members to reach out.
Making a therapist’s office number well known is a great way to start mental health improvements in the construction industry because it makes it easier for people to get the help they need. Even better, consider including complementary telehealth visits with counseling services in your company insurance benefits.
5. Communicate Openly and Frequently
Construction employment fell by 58% in 2020, leading to additional workplace stress created by the fear of future layoffs. People will deal with less stress and anxiety if their team leaders and business owners communicate with them frequently. Send weekly updates explaining the state of the company and any ongoing challenges.
Employees always feel more valued when communication from leadership prevents them from feeling disconnected. If they understand that things are going well enough that layoffs aren’t a concern, their mental wellness will be in a much better state because their supervisors or managers mitigated the fear of the unknown.
Support Mental Health in Construction
Team leaders and business owners should learn how to support mental health in the construction industry. Their teams will thrive and employee retention will improve when people aren’t working overtime, stressing about layoffs, or recovering from injuries. Every preventive effort makes a significant difference in creating healthier workplace environments within construction companies.