The construction industry is demanding, often requiring long hours of physically intense and high stress work. There is a natural emphasis on workers’ physical safety, but mental health can be neglected. According to the Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan, 83% of construction workers have struggled with mental health issues and those issues are the leading cause of disability in the workplace. The construction industry also has one of the highest suicide rates among all professions.
Reasons Mental Health Problems Are So Prevalent in Construction
Construction workers face unique stressors that can negatively impact their mental well-being. Factors such as tight deadlines, intense physical labor, financial pressures, job insecurity, and hazardous working conditions can take a toll on mental health. The “tough” culture that is so prevalent in the industry often discourages workers from discussing their feelings, further exacerbating the problem. There are steps leaders of this workforce can take to promote well-being and support good mental health.
- Promote Open Communication: Breaking the stigma surrounding mental health starts with fostering an open and supportive culture. You can help reduce feelings of isolation and provide an avenue for seeking support by encouraging workers to talk openly about their mental health struggles. Employers can facilitate conversations and provide resources to encourage employees to focus on mental well-being.
- Provide Education: Raising awareness about mental health can make a difference for the construction industry. Employers can organize workshops or training programs to educate workers and supervisors on recognizing signs of mental distress and promoting self-care and available resources.
- Implement Supportive Policies: Companies can better address mental health concerns in the workplace by prioritizing the development and implementation of supportive policies. This may include creating flexible work schedules, allowing time off for therapy or counseling, and providing access to convenient digital mental health programs.
- Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance: Long working hours and demanding projects can lead to burnout and increased stress levels. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance is vital to support workers’ mental health. Prioritizing time off and promoting activities outside of work can help workers recharge and maintain their well-being.
The Benefits of Prioritizing Mental Health for Construction Workforces
Prioritizing mental health in the construction industry is crucial for the overall well-being of workers. It’s also good for business. According to a World Health Organization-led study every $1 invested in treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of $4 in health and productivity. Building a construction workforce that feels empowered regarding their well-being will lead to increased productivity, reduced turnover, and ultimately, a healthier industry as a whole.
The Unique Power of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One approach to the mental health crisis in the construction industry is providing convenient, online access to evidence-based, self-paced mental health programs. Doing that can lower the most common barriers to mental health care: stigma, access, and cost. The lessons of CBT are well-suited to alleviating the pressures construction workers are under:
- Building Coping Skills: CBT equips individuals with practical coping skills to manage stress and anxiety. Construction workers can learn relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, which can help them calm their minds and bodies during stressful situations on the job. Additionally, they can develop problem-solving skills to effectively address work-related issues, reducing feelings of helplessness.
- Time Management and Boundaries: CBT can help construction workers set realistic goals, prioritize self-care, and create boundaries between work and personal life. Construction workers can reduce work-related stress and improve their overall well-being by learning to manage time effectively and engage in activities outside of work that bring joy and relaxation.
- Addressing Insomnia: Sleep disturbances are common among individuals working in high-stress occupations like construction. CBT can help workers identify and address factors contributing to sleep problems, such as racing thoughts or excessive worry. By implementing strategies to improve the sleep environment, regulate sleep patterns, and manage nighttime anxiety, construction workers can experience better quality sleep, leading to improved mental health and cognitive functioning.
- Developing Problem-Solving Skills: CBT focuses on practical problem-solving techniques that can benefit construction workers who face complex situations on construction sites. Workers can approach challenges more effectively by learning to break down problems into manageable steps, evaluate potential solutions, and consider the consequences. This can lead to increased confidence, reduced stress levels, and better decision-making abilities.
- Enhancing Communication and Interpersonal Skills: CBT often addresses interpersonal challenges, which can be prevalent in construction environments where effective communication is essential. Learning how to improve communication skills helps construction workers express their needs, concerns, and boundaries more effectively, leading to healthier relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and clients. Improved communication can reduce misunderstandings, conflicts, and job-related stress.
The mental health problems in the construction industry are well documented and call for a proactive response. Learn more today about how Learn to Live’s turnkey mental health programs deliver industry leading engagement and improved clinical outcomes!