The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the mental health of many adults as economic uncertainty, forced solitude, and worries about contracting the virus have increased stress levels. Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, construction workers in particular were susceptible to mental health issues and suicide, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
More construction workers die by suicide each day than all workplace-related fatalities combined, according to the NAHB, with a rate of 43.5 suicides per 100,000 workers. The NAHB, following a multi-year initiative to combat opioid misuse in home building, is launching an initiative focusing on mental health wellbeing. Research suggests industry associations have been overlooked as an agent for change and associations have a role to play in promoting the importance of worker health and wellbeing of member organizations.
The NAHB has joined the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention in an effort to raise awareness of the prevalence of suicide in the construction industry. Skilled trade workers are often perfectionists, which combined with deadlines and a physically demanding work environment, can lead to escalating stress. Stress, combined with long hours and financial pressure can create a heavy mental strain on construction workers.
According to the NAHB, many construction companies have yet to incorporate mental health into safety, health, and wellness culture due to stigma. Employers should be open to listening to any concerns raised by workers about their stress levels or mental health issues, the NAHB says, and create workplaces that promote respect.
The NAHB said more information about the efforts of the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention and NAHB’s member mental wellbeing initiative will be forthcoming.