Construction industry faces ‘tsunami’ of mental wellbeing issues

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Chris Gardner, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of British Columbia (ICBA), says there is a “tsunami” of mental wellbeing issues facing the construction industry. With Thursday, September 1 marking the start of Suicide Prevention Month, the industry continues to highlight and address contributing factors to the grim statistics surrounding construction and suicide.

The Construction Industry Alliance notes several factors that play into the suicide rate in the construction industry. This includes construction being a male-dominated industry, as these industries tend to have more suicides. Many veterans also choose construction as a career, with this group of Americans already at greater risk of suicide than the population as a whole, with around 22 suicides a day.

“Layoffs due to seasonal work or economic downturns can have significant consequences. Not only does this increase the stress of losing income, but job loss also means employees may lose medical benefits and/or access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs),” writes the alliance. “Not to mention that the physical demands of construction work put a strain on the body and can cause physical or even chronic pain, which can lead to self-medication (with drugs, alcohol or opioids). Opioid abuse is linked to an increased likelihood of attempted suicide.

Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, says opioids are no small factor in the conversation about mental health and suicide. Based on a 2018 study in a Michigan emergency room, it is estimated that up to 30% of opioid overdoses occur in cases where the individual reports not caring about the risks or not be sure of your intentions.

According to the Center for Construction Research and Training and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the construction industry has one of the highest injury rates in the United States. wounds. Studies in Massachusetts and Ohio found construction industry workers were seven times more likely to die from an opioid-related overdose than the average worker.

Gardner told attendees of the Fenestration & Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) 2022 virtual summer conference that 55% of people who are employed and die from an opioid overdose in British Columbia are in some way or another related to the construction industry. The CDC reported nearly 70,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2020, a 36% increase from the previous year.

“When a mental wellness challenge emerges, those challenges remain quiet and deep,” says Gardner. “There is a stigma where people feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. But when they surface, the consequences are often tragic for the person, their family, their colleagues and their community. The worst thing that can happen on any job site is death, and it’s especially tragic when someone commits suicide.

Monday, September 5 marks the start of Construction Suicide Prevention Week. For more information and access to resources for employers and employees, visit the Construction Suicide Prevention Week website. There, companies can also register to participate in the awareness week.

“Each year in September – National Suicide Prevention Month – the construction industry will dedicate a week to raising awareness of the unique challenges faced by construction workers who have led to suicide and what we can do about it. to prevent it,” the website says. “Together we can save lives.”

For more information and access to resources, follow the links above. For immediate assistance, contact the three-digit code 988 or go to https://988lifeline.org/chat/

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