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Mental Health Conversations Are Becoming More Common Among Construction Workers

February 23, 2024 from CBC


The significance of mental health in the construction sector has gained attention in recent years. Many construction workers suffer from mental health issues and remain silent, concerned about the stigma surrounding mental illness. On the podcast, The Current, Matt Teter, a former stonemason who is now a construction health and safety manager, talked about his terrifying experience and the difficulties faced by employees in the industry.


Teter’s journey started with a horrible event that severely injured his body and mind. After he suffered a long and agonizing fall while working on a roof, he fell 46 feet. But what really sent him down a path of addiction and mental health issues was his later dependence on prescription opioids to treat his pain.


Thinking back on his experience, Teter underlined how widespread the stigma against mental health is in the construction sector. He talked about the fear of being judged and the pressure to fit in with the “tough guy” attitude that prevents people from asking for help. Teter said, “I don’t think I’d be able to tell them… they’d probably think less of you.” Teter eventually overcame his addiction in spite of the difficulties he encountered, and he now promotes increased understanding and assistance for mental health concerns in the construction industry. He advised others to call their safety person if you have one or make a call to your upper management who may be more receptive.


According to Statistics Canada, At least one-third of construction workers have mental health issues, underscoring the critical need for intervention. Studies conducted in a number of nations, including the U.S., the U.K., and Australia, also show that the number of construction workers who commit suicide is alarmingly higher than that of workplace accidents.


Occupational health psychologist Arla Day, a professor, emphasized the severity of the mental health crisis within the construction sector. She underlined the necessity of a cultural revolution and all-encompassing training initiatives to combat stigma and advance leaders’ and employees’ understanding of mental health. Day said the issue is broad and large and that a growing amount of research and data regarding these problems are emerging.


The executive director of Canada’s Building Trades Unions, Sean Strickland, echoed the need for change and noted the particular difficulties encountered by construction workers, including their physically demanding jobs and unstable employment. He underlined how crucial it is to have a safe space where employees can talk about mental health concerns without worrying about facing consequences. Strickland stressed, saying, “We need people to be comfortable in the industry. We have a lot of things to build in Canada, and so that culture is just frowned upon much more today than ever was.”.


There are currently programs addressing mental health in the construction industry, with a focus on policy formulation, awareness campaigns, and training. To eliminate deeply ingrained stigmas and guarantee that employees receive the assistance they require to succeed in both their professional and personal lives, there is still more work to be done.





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