Most of the talk regarding mental health awareness focuses on people who work in offices and tend to bring their work home with them, as they might be at a greater risk of mental health problems, burnout and high stress levels. But stress affects more than just office executives. The working conditions for many construction industry workers contribute to all sorts of mental health problems but it seems that this industry doesn’t get mentioned in these conversations very often. Of course, the construction industry isn’t exactly the most encouraging area when it comes to talking about feelings but the unfortunate thing is that this “tough guy” culture can stop employees from addressing that they might be having problems and seeking help.
Mental distress comes in various forms with all sorts of different symptoms and it impacts construction workers on various levels of many organizations … one of the many reasons why it’s something that needs to be addressed.
As we all know, construction is a very deadline driven industry and the quality of work that needs to be delivered and the time in which it needs to be accomplished are huge stress triggers for many workers in the industry. This sort of mental distress directly impacts physical injuries, and vice versa. For example: when a worker is experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, this causes them (or anyone) to experience cognitive impairment. This cognitive impairment can take the form of concentration issues or memory problems, which in turn create a barrier for performing the crucial safety checks that prevent injury.
In the event that any workers are experiencing mental distress, many of them don’t seek help. Why is that? They might think they can handle the stress without treatment or maybe they’re worried that it might cause a negative perception of them or a potential negative effect on the job. These reasons for people not seeking help all revolve around a fear of vilification. And this is exactly why facilitating discussions regarding mental health is so important for any company.
So, what can you do in your organization?
First of all, don’t assume that mental health problems don’t exist or can’t exist in your company. Not only is that unrealistic but it’s also discouraging if your employees think that is how you feel.
To get the ball rolling, start a conversation and talk about things like stress management in your meetings. If you are willing to discuss the importance of self-care and living a healthy lifestyle, it can do wonders … especially because your employees’ emotional states have a big impact on their productivity, overall life satisfaction and your company. Encouraging openness about mental health can help detect any issues early on. When health problems go undetected for long periods of time, it causes people to suffer in silence … which is not good for them or for your company. Generally, people will seek help once they recognize that they have a problem. It’s just all about creating awareness and educating your employees. When employees do end up seeking help, be sure to encourage them, as treatment generally helps greatly so you want to support your employees’ efforts to get the help they need.
All in all, companies that slow down to emphasize the importance of mental health and assist their employees where they can create a culture of caring and openness for everyone. Not only will this encourage happier, more engaged and more successful employees, but you will also notice that it has a positive effect on physical injuries and overall workplace culture.