In general, the construction industry is known to be a work environment that is hard on our bodies. At Whitaker Construction, we are responsible for the creation, removal, and maintenance of roads, public utilities, critical infrastructure, and so much more. The working environments that this puts us in on a daily basis are no exception to the harshness on our bodies. However, what's often overlooked is the impact it can have on our mental health. Long hours, harsh deadlines, physical fatigue, and high-stress environments are just some of the challenges faced by Whitaker Construction employee-owners and others in similar fields. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between construction and mental health, highlighting the importance of addressing mental well-being in our industry.
The Mental Health Challenge in Construction
The heavy civil and utility construction industry is known for its demanding nature. Workers are frequently exposed to harsh weather conditions, hard physical labor, and the constant pressure to meet project deadlines. All of these factors can take a toll on our mental health. The following is a list of some common mental health challenges we can face in our industry:
Stress: Tight schedules, unexpected challenges, and project complexities can lead to high levels of worker stress.
Isolation: We often spend long hours working on-site, which can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from friends and family.
Physical Hardships: Physical exhaustion can make our mental health issues even worse. Chronic pain and injuries from heavy lifting and repetitive tasks can lead to depression and anxiety.
Insecurity: The nature of the our industry is project-based, leading to job insecurity. Fear of layoffs during downtimes can lead to anxiety and financial stress.
Substance Abuse: Some individuals may turn to substance abuse as a way to cope with stress. Even though an employee-owner may feel like this helps in the moment, it can eventually cause more complicated and dangerous mental health issues.
The Importance of Mental Health Awareness
Recognizing the importance of mental health in our industry is the very first step toward improving our workforce well-being. Employers, workers, and industry stakeholders must prioritize mental health awareness and support. Here are some ways that Whitaker Construction is working to promote mental well-being to our most valuable assets: our PEOPLE.
Education and Training: We are constantly bringing mental health education and awareness to our employee-owners and their families. We help to train and educate supervisors to help their crews recognize the signs of mental health issues at the very beginning and provide appropriate support to manage it properly.
Open Communication: We always encourage open and honest communication about mental health. Creating a safe environment for all Whitaker Construction representatives to discuss their struggles without fear of judgment is crucial.
Work-Life Balance: We do our best to promote a healthy work-life balance by setting reasonable working hours and encouraging employees to take breaks and use their vacation time. Avoiding burnout and work fatigue go a long way toward positive mental health among our crews.
Access to Resources: We provide access to mental health resources, such as our Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and counseling services, to help workers cope with stress and anxiety. We are sure to market these programs and services on all of our owned platforms, including social media, our website, and monthly communications.
Peer Support: We have established a peer support system where experienced employee-owners can guide and support others. Everyone is on a different part of their journey with mental health - so why not lean on those around us that have gone through similar challenges already!
Physical Health: We always work to promote our physical health through regular exercise, stretching, and safe work processes to reduce the risk of physical injuries. It's hard to tackle our mental health if our bodies are falling apart. Our physical health provides a steady foundation to build on when improving our mental health.
The Positive Impact of Addressing Mental Health
At Whitaker Construction, addressing our mental health not only benefits individual employee-owners but also has a positive impact on their families and the entire industry. When we are mentally healthy and well-supported, we are more likely to be engaged, productive, and safe on the job. This, in turn, leads to better project outcomes, reduced accidents, and lower turnover rates.
The demanding nature of what we do presents unique challenges to mental health, but it also offers opportunities for positive change. By prioritizing mental health awareness and support, we can create a healthier and more resilient Utah workforce. We must all work together to break the stigma surrounding mental health and ensure that everyone in construction, regardless of the type of work, has the resources and support they need to thrive. In doing so, we can Build the Best: People, Communities, Future.