Did you know construction is one of the industries with the highest rates of suicides, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? Suicide is one of the top ten leading causes of death for people over 16 years of age. We can help prevent suicide by being diligent and communicating with colleagues.
Suicide does not just effect the workplace; it can be detrimental to employees and their families. The CDC lists these possible causes for a higher rate of suicides in an occupation, such as the construction industry:
- Job-related isolation and demands
- Stressful work environments
- Work-home imbalance
- Socioeconomic inequities, including lower income, lower education level and lack of access to health services
The Construction Financial Management Association has an Alliance for Construction Industry Suicide Prevention. They offer these tips for developing a culture aware of mental health concerns and preventing suicides:
1. Cultivate Bold Leadership
Promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention should start within the organization:
- ACKNOWLEDGE that employees are experiencing overwhelming life challenges, mental health conditions, and substance misuse disorders.
- ASSESS their own and their company’s readiness for change by reflecting on self-assessment tools.
- DISSEMINATE bold messages about the company’s priorities for mental health promotion and suicide prevention. These leaders are visible, vocal, and visionary, and they talk about how a focus on wellness and a culture of care will benefit the whole organization.
- REASSURE employees that the company will support those who proactively reach out for mental health support.
- ALLOCATE resources for training, marketing, program evaluation, and mental health services.
- HOST a leadership round-table for executives to start a dialogue and share best practices.
- SHARE personal recovery stories and role model help-seeking.
- PROVIDE tips on how to share stories of recovery: carsonjspencer.org/get-support/sharing-our-stories.
2. Improve Mental Health Literacy
Mental health and suicide can be difficult topics to discuss because they are serious, fearful topics.
Mental health literacy is education about three things:
- KNOWLEDGE about mental health conditions and substance misuse disorders
- FAMILIARITY with mental health resources, support tools, and treatment options
- STORIES of hope and recovery
Here are ways to increase mental health literacy:
- GIVE toolbox talks on psychological safety topics
- OFFER Mental Health First Aid: www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org
- GAIN firsthand familiarity with mental health services
- CALL the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- VISIT local mental health treatment facilities and addiction recovery centers
- ASK your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) providers to present lunch and learn sessions on mental health and coping topics
3. Teach Coping Skills for Life Challenges
It is important to incorporate mental health practices into our overall fitness. Just like being aware of a healthy diet and exercise, we should be aware of positive mental health practices. Consider some of these services:
- YOGA classes
- GRIEF support groups
- CHAIR massages
- NEW PARENTING transition support
- LIFE coaching
- HEALTHY snack options
- WELLNESS assessments
Southeast Texas recently restarted the Mental Health America program that works to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness through education, advocacy and outreach. If you are looking for more resources surrounding mental health, check out their Facebook page: MHA SETX.
One Team. One Vision. One Goal. – Everyone Goes Home Safe!