Itasca, IL — Smaller construction companies may have an advantage when it comes to helping workers find counseling and mental health services amid the industry’s ongoing suicide crisis.
To Jessica Bunting, director of the Research to Practice initiative at CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, companies with fewer employees are “already ahead of the game” in that regard. Bunting was one of a panel of experts who spoke during a Nov. 9 webinar hosted by the National Safety Council Divisions.
“It’s so much easier to accept help from someone that you already know and trust,” she said. “And so, I think if the leaders of these small companies can find it within themselves to be vulnerable and they’re building a sense of community, that sets them up to really change the whole culture of the company when it comes to both mental health and safety.”
Increasing awareness and limiting stigma around the issue is the goal of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, whose executive director, Sonya Bohmann, facilitated the discussion with various members of the CIASP board of trustees.
Nick Robins – an environmental, health and safety official with Lendlease, a multinational construction and real estate company – called on employers to go beyond simply forming strategies for prevention. A good place to start? Acknowledging the issue and keeping an open dialogue about resources available to workers.
“The more you talk about it, the less stigma there is with it,” Robins said. “But to talk about it, you have to start the conversation. Once you start it, it’s hard to stop people. It really is. Because there will be people, the advocates, who will step forward and they’ve been waiting for this. So, start the conversation. Be willing to listen, give the time.”
Justin Azbill, director of national EHS at Milwaukee Tool, said assistance must be proactive rather than reactive. One step toward accomplishing this, he said, is educating employers “to be able to learn how to have conversations” about mental health as well as on “the importance of not diagnosing but understanding ways to get help.”
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Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication