May is a great month. Temperatures are rising, gardens are blooming... spring is my favorite season! Plus, May has Mother's Day (a personal favorite of mine - I'm sure you know by now I love being a mom to my two amazing kiddos), Memorial Day, and May the Fourth (for those of you who like Star Wars).
May is also Mental Health Awareness Month, and that's what I want to talk about today...
Let's start with some statistics:
1 in 5 construction workers report struggling with anxiety, depression, & other mental health issues, according to industry research.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, construction has the highest suicide rate of all industries, at 53.2 suicides per 100,000 workers. That's about 4x greater than the national average.
These statistics look grim, but it's important to share them. That's the awareness part of Mental Health Awareness Month.
The good news is, in the past several years our culture has made some great strides in breaking the stigma that surrounds mental health and raising it to the status of a public health crisis (anyone else thinking of Simone Biles right now?). Going to therapy isn't something to be ashamed of anymore (yes, I go to therapy and am quite thankful for my therapist... she is great), and candid discussions between friends and family members about their mental health are more common. People who are struggling with their mental health have more resources and a greater support network than in the past.
The construction industry itself is also making progress. Construction Safety Week was earlier this month, and mental health was one of the topics included. We've also seen the rise of organizations like Lines for Life, a nonprofit that is dedicated to preventing substance abuse and suicide. Mental health is being addressed much more frequently by companies to their workers, especially during the pandemic.
Awareness is just the first step, though... the next is to take action. If you feel you are struggling, it's time to reach out for help. Or if you know someone who is struggling, reach out to them. Talking to loved ones and finding a therapist are the best places to start, and there are a multitude of online resources as well. Here are just a few:
Lines for Life, the regional nonprofit I mentioned above. They have 24/7 help lines available to take your call.
Hard Hats with Heart, which is mostly focused on heart & cardiovascular health for construction workers, but they also provide some great articles on taking care of your mental health.
National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization.
I encourage you to bookmark these resources so that you can use them if you need to, or if you see someone struggling who could use support. And as you're on the job or at a job site, remember that mental health is a crucial part of safety on the job. Take care of your teammates and be open and honest with them - creating a strong support network is one of the best things anyone can do for their mental health. Then we move beyond awareness to action, to proactivity.