Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 6

Addressing Mental Health

As the crisis is emerging
from the shadows, alarming
statistics are prompting
construction organizations
to take action.

n alarming-and little-known-statistic
is that a construction worker is six times
more likely to die from suicide than
from a workplace accident.
For construction workers under the age of
24, that risk is 10 times higher. The power
of the social stigma that encapsulates suicide in particular, and mental health in general, is so strong that this issue goes largely
undiscussed. It's important for construction
firms to explore the mental health risks and
triggers on a construction site, as well as
encourage mental health discussions and
understand what they can do to support
their employees.
As the crisis is emerging from the shadows, alarming statistics are prompting construction organizations to take action. The
AGC Michigan held its Annual Construction
Safety Training Day earlier this year with a
focus on reducing workplace injuries and
fatalities, and improving mental health.
"Suicides aren't talked about much-
we're still in the dark ages," said keynote
speaker David Anthony Opalewski of Central

Michigan University. "My guess is that the
high rate of suicide in the construction
industry was highly suspected, but not
acknowledged. I'm not being judgmental.
It's pretty scary stuff."
Opalewski found that it surprised him as
well. "I talked to some construction workers
and owners of companies and found that
they agreed with the statistics. Construction
is a high-pressure industry with budgets,
deadlines, schedules, and quality and safety
issues. It's a very high-stress job and stress
is correlated with depression and suicide."
In addition, as workers grow older, their
bodies wear down, they get arthritis and
they can't perform on the job the way they
used to. Many workers are also away from
their families for long periods of time, especially true since the recession of 2008.
"If there was a job available 200 miles away,
they took it," said Opalewski. "When I'm traveling, I often see construction workers having
breakfast-some say they've been away from
home for a month. And once the job is done,
they don't know where they're going next.

6 | View past issue of Michigan Constructor at www.naylornetwork.com/mag-nxt/

They may get laid off. There's no new job to
go to, or they may have another project away
from home.
Owners of construction companies say
quality control is very high-stress with project deadlines eating away at their profits.
However, with the above said, there are
many people in the construction industry leading happy and fulfilling lives. No industry is
immune to suicide risk. Opalewski has been
working in the area of suicide prevention since
the late 1980s and has seen industries at the
top of the list for suicide that a few years later
are not in the top five for suicide deaths and
attempts. Many of these industries have successfully addressed the problem by the following three strategies:
1) Promoting awareness and addressing the
myths about suicide.
2) Changing the stigma of depression from
a character flaw to what it really is; a medical
condition. The human brain can fall ill just like
any other organ of the body.
3) Making pathways for help more accessible
for their employees.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017

A Message from the Chairman
Addressing Mental Health In Construction
2017-2018 Membership Directory
Index of Advertisers/Advertisers.com
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - Intro
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - cover1
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - cover2
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 3
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 4
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - A Message from the Chairman
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - Addressing Mental Health In Construction
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 7
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 8
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 9
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 10
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 11
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 12
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 13
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 2017-2018 Membership Directory
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 15
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 16
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 17
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 18
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 19
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 20
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 21
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 22
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 23
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 24
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 25
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 26
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 27
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 28
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 29
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 30
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 31
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 32
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - 33
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - Index of Advertisers/Advertisers.com
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - cover3
Michigan Constructor - Summer 2017 - cover4
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