How Employers Can Provide Greater Access to Mental Health Resources
We are much more than our bodies' strength and capacity. Burnout, depression, and anxiety can be just as debilitating as a broken leg or strained back! That's why it's vital to protect mental health — especially in a high-risk industry such as construction.
At ARC, we are committed to ensuring our team members' safety 24/7. That includes their mental well-being. But how we can promote and preserve mental health, especially during these difficult times?
Let's take a look.
Destigmatize mental health issues
We've made a lot of progress as a society, but there's still more to be done for mental health awareness. Many people cling to the false belief that mental illness can be overcome with "willpower" or good behavior. Mental health issues are often associated with weakness or oversensitivity. In the construction industry, where machismo is popular, workers may feel ashamed to seek help for mental illness.
If we, as employers, start normalizing mental health struggles, we can create an environment where our employees are just as likely to seek help for burnout as they are for joint sprains. One in five adults will experience depression and anxiety at some point in their lives. In short, it's not rare! Together, we can encourage people to see mental illness as a health issue, not a personality defect.
Respond effectively to employee complaints and warning signs
Only 50% of U.S. companies provide resources to support their employees' mental health. That sends a subtle yet lingering message: that mental health is a luxury, not a right — and that employers would rather not deal with mental health issues. We must spread awareness and actively promote mental well-being in every workplace..., especially in high-pressure, high-risk industries such as construction. Not only do we want to retain our best workers despite the stress, but we also want to avoid dangerous incidents that could happen if they're anxious or depressed.
To solve these issues, we must (a) offer robust preventative and supportive systems, such as Employee Assistance Programs and paid sick leave, and (b) know how to identify the warning signs.
If a worker complains they feel burned out and can no longer focus, that's a sign they should be given some paid time off. If they're acting erratically or making comments about how "nothing matters," that could be a serious mental illness risk. Everyone on the job site should be able to compassionately respond to these behaviors and help the team member get the help they need. It's no different from someone reporting signs of heatstroke: call for help ASAP!
Offer fully covered mental health support to workers
An Employee Assistance Program provides counseling, motivational coaching, burnout relief, and many other psychological benefits for your team. The beauty of the EAP is that it does not require diagnoses, medical procedures, or pre-qualifications. Anyone who needs some mental health guidance can take advantage of the EAP, whether for short-term issues or long-term recovery.
Whenever possible, provide employer-sponsored healthcare coverage that includes psychiatric and therapeutic care. Even if your employees' mental health condition has nothing to do with their job, they will certainly perform better when they are thriving in total wellness — both physical and mental.
Optimize your practices to reduce burnout
Burnout is a mental illness that affects people who don't otherwise experience mental illness. In our fast-paced, high-pressure society, many employees perceive an expectation to work themselves to the bone. But that's rarely good for your business and never good for them. Chronic stress has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, sleep deprivation, and erratic behavior — all of which can negatively impact both your employee and their team.
To reduce burnout, optimize your workload assignments so no one has to pull insane hours (or is incentivized to do so). Share your construction firm's purpose and values, and encourage all workers to reflect on their roles and discover their potential on your team. Provide constructive feedback to help them feel accomplished and supported. Avoid overworking your employees, and discourage them from workaholic behavior.
Investing in your team's mental health is an investment in your construction firm's overall sustainability. People who feel good inside and out are more likely to do exceptional work. And do you really want people who feel overstressed, depressed, or burned out to hide their struggles in order to keep their jobs? Prioritizing mental well-being and reducing the stigma of mental illness benefits everyone. Those who are temporarily struggling will know they can access support, and those with chronic mental health issues can pursue their roles with greater confidence.
Providing mental health resources is not difficult. A potent mix of understanding, awareness, and convenient support will go a long way toward keeping your team happy and thriving.