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  • Ashlyn Halstead

What's Under the Hard Hat Matters

May is recognized as Mental Health Month, a time to raise awareness and promote the importance of mental health. The construction industry, like many others, has a unique relationship with mental health. It is part of an industry that is physically demanding, financially stressful, and often involves long and irregular working hours. During Mental Health Month, it is important that we focus on providing resources and support for workers in our industry. By implementing mental health programs, and promoting mental health awareness, we can work towards creating a safer and healthier work environment for those in the industry.

Our COO, CJ Potts talks with Asphalt Pro magazine in this month’s edition about his plans on creating a caring culture in the asphalt industry to nurture and maintain our workforce. He talks about future plans on providing more mental health resources to our workforce, and to get everyone comfortable to ask for help when they need it.

“This year’s priority is building relationships, team building and clear communication to better understand our people and what they are going through”-CJ Potts, COO

According to American Psychiatric Association Foundation, the construction industry ranks second highest in suicide rates among major industries.

Research shows that up to 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental health condition. Multiple factors likely contribute to higher suicide rates and mental health concerns in the construction industry:

  • It’s a male dominated industry, with men experiencing the highest suicide rates

  • Toughness and strength are valued, mental health conditions, or seeking help, may be seen as personal weakness

  • Shame and fear of judgment

  • Chronic pain

  • Seasonal and cyclical work contributing to family and financial strain

  • High stress and deadline driven work

  • Long hours that may lead to fatigue

These environmental factors can trigger mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, as well as substance abuse. It is important to note that mental health conditions can arise due to a wide range of factors. Some of the major causes include biological factors such as genetics, brain chemistry and hormonal imbalances. Environmental factors such as exposure to trauma, neglect, abuse, poverty, and stress can also play a major role in the development of mental health disorders. Lifestyle choices such as substance abuse, poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep are known to contribute to the development of mental health conditions. Research has also shown that mental health conditions are highly prevalent worldwide, with an estimated 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health issues at some point in their lifetime. Despite this, mental health remains highly stigmatized in many societies, leading to a lack of support and resources for those who are affected.

Overall, it is crucial to recognize and address the multiple causes of mental health conditions to provide effective treatment and support to those who are affected. This can be achieved through a multifaceted approach that includes early intervention, education, advocacy, and destigmatization efforts. As we educate this Mental Health Awareness month, we encourage you to get vulnerable and share your stories. You never know who you may encourage to seek help. We know it is hard to open up, but we have to get vulnerable not only to get better for ourselves but for our loved ones who need us.

Amy Wright, VP of HR & Talent, shares a time when she had to seek help for mental illness:

“I have suffered from anxiety and depression multiple times in my life, primarily in the postpartum periods. After my first child was born, I found myself in significant physical and mental pain, and after spending a night in the hospital in my second postpartum week, the admitting physician recognized my symptoms and called in a clinical psychologist. Having never had a child before, I had no idea what I was experiencing was postpartum depression. Thankfully I was able to work with both my physician and a psychologist to begin treatment with medication and behavioral therapy. That was over twenty years ago, and I have not experienced an anxiety attack since. My psychologist also encouraged me to view my mental and emotional health the same way I viewed my physical health. I had annual physicals, didn’t I? And I saw a physician when I was physically ill, right? She advised me that mental and emotional help is no different; there may be periods when you need treatment and when you don’t.”

It is time we view mental health in the same way we view physical health and seek treatment when needed. If you or someone you know in the construction industry is struggling with mental health, reaching out for help is crucial. It is estimated that suicide takes one life every two days in the construction industry. We offer free and confidential services that provides advice and support on a variety of issues, including stress, depression, and addiction.

Mental Health Resources:

Perspectives Employee Program

This is a confidential and free service available to all employees and members of their household.

Phone: 800-456-6327

Be Well Indiana

Free, confidential, 24/7, trained counselors.

Phone: 866-211-9966

National Suicide Hotline

Free, confidential, 24/7, chat box for death/hard of hearing.

Phone: 988

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