As the pandemic continues to impact the economy and mental health of many workers,construction experiences the second highest rate of suicide among major industries. A new survey of the construction workforcefrom the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Foundation’s Center for Workplace Mental Health, the Construction Financial Management Association, CSDZ and Holmes Murphy, calls attention to this issue and offers insights during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
The online 20-question survey was launched in March 2021, and was answered by 1,175 respondents. It was distributed in all regions of the country by the four sponsoring organizations, along with state chapters of national construction trade associations, labor unions, and joint labor-management benefit trusts. Of the primary job function reported by respondents, 29% were “CFOs, Controllers or Financial Professionals,” 22% were in “Safety/Risk Management,” and 16% were “CEOs, Presidents, and Owners.”
Among the key findings:
- 93% of all survey respondents recognize addressing mental health at work as a sound business practice, and among presidents, CEOs, and owners, 77% indicated it was prioritized at work.
- When asked if workers were likely to seek needed mental health care, only 26% indicated they believed workers were likely to seek care, whereas nearly half did not know (43%) and nearly a third said workers were unlikely to (31%).
- Overall, respondents said their organizations make supervisor training (25%) or employee training (25%) available; 69% identified supervisor training as most helpful and 66% identified training for employees as most helpful.
- When asked whether workers would openly discuss mental health with supervisors, only 17% responded they would, 37% indicated they would not, and almost half of respondents (46%) were either undecided or did not know. APA polling of the general public from earlier this year shows a dramatic contrast: nearly 56% in that poll indicated they’d be comfortable discussing mental health with their supervisors.
- Similarly, when asked whether workers would openly discuss mental health with co-workers, only 18% agreed, 31% disagreed, and more than half (51%) were either undecided or did not know. This also indicates a contrast with the APA public polling where 56% of respondents indicated they’d be comfortable talking about mental health with colleagues.
- The top four reasons for that reticence, according to those polled were:
- Shame and stigma (78%)
- Fear of judgment by peers (77%)
- Fear of negative consequences (55%)
- Don’t know how to access care (46%)
“The stark differences in the level of comfort just talking about mental health in this industry tells us that we have a ways to go in fighting stigma and giving managers the tools they need to support worker mental health,” said Darcy Gruttadaro, J.D., Director of the APAF Center for Workplace Mental Health. “The good news from these results is that the top-line management in construction are paying attention, and with leaders like CFMA, Holmes Murphy and CSDZ in our corner, we will continue our work in supporting the creation of mentally healthy organizational cultures, ending stigma, and improving access to effective and timely care for mental health and substance use conditions.”
“I’m pleased that senior leadership in our industry took the time to participate in this survey. These findings, recommendations and resources will help maintain the industry’s momentum of addressing mental health and wellbeing, including suicide prevention, a topic we have been advocating on behalf of for the last six years,” said Stuart Binstock, President & CEO of the Construction Financial Management Association.
“Holmes Murphy and CSDZ are proud to be co-sponsors of this survey. We recognize the challenges that so many are facing at an organizational and employee level. The final report provides insights and perspectives to help industry stakeholders reduce barriers and improve access to care for construction workers and dependents through company or union-sponsored health plans,” said Cal Beyer, Vice President of Workforce Risk and Worker Wellbeing for CSDZ, a Holmes Murphy company.
For organizations and businesses seeking help in supporting the mental health of their workforce, APA Foundation’s Center for Workplace Mental Health provides tools, resources and information, and has recently issued toolkits and webinars on COVID-19, remote work and more. The Center recently released NOTICE. TALK. ACT.® at Work, an e-learning training for managers on supporting employees’ mental health needs.
The American Psychiatric Association Foundation is the philanthropic and educational arm of APA. The APA Foundation promotes awareness of mental illnesses and the effectiveness of treatment, the importance of early intervention, access to care, and the need for high-quality services and treatment through a combination of public and professional education, research, research training, grants, and awards.
The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with 37,400 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.psychiatry.org.