Webinar Replay: Mental Health in Construction

Posted May 26th, 2022

There’s a safety problem in American construction. It’s mental health.

A recent study concluded that 83% of construction workers have experienced a mental health issue. The construction industry has the 2nd highest suicide rate of any industry in America.

It’s time to DO YOUR PART to spread awareness and improve mental health in construction. Join our expert guests Randy Thompson and Michelle Walker as they share industry mental health insights and tips on how to build a safe environment and a caring culture in your business.


  • The factors that contribute mental health concerns in the construction industry
  • The warning signs to look for when someone may be experiencing a mental health event
  • How to build a culture of mental health safety and support
  • What resources are available and where to find them

Michelle Walker 00:04

And, and so, you know, it’s definitely it’s an issue in the industry. And you know, we’re such a safety focused industry. And yet, you know, when we kind of looked at the numbers and realize that probably about five times more construction workers were dying by suicide than were dying by physical on the job, causes that we all spend so much time, effort, energy money, investing in, it just really, you know, kind of shook me to my core and said, you know, this is it, this is a workforce that we say we care so much about, and that we’re so dependent on, we need to take better care of them from this aspect of mental health as well. And so that’s kind of how I got involved. And, and the rest is history. But, you know, the, the, the needle is moving in the industry, and so just thankful for more opportunities like this to continue to, you know, continue the conversation.

Scott Peper 00:58

Don’t miss Michelle, there’s stats and are really alarming. And I know there’s a focus in construction. But can you talk a little bit more in depth on why is it construction? More? Is it you talked about, you know, construction? is a male, heavily male industry? Is it just that or is there something about the industry itself that is really driving?

Michelle Walker

Yeah, there’s a lot about the industry. So kind of one of the soap boxes that I can get on is, when you talk to anybody in the industry, and you ask them, what’s your biggest challenge, they say, workforce, you know, trying to get get enough people to do the work. And so trying to take a step back from that and go, Well, why is there such a workforce problem, and part of it is the image of the industry. And when you kind of start lining up some of those image issues with some of these risk factors, it really shows how, you know, the industry really does have some work to do, to make it a safer place to be. So part of it is really just the people here doing the work. So men definitely higher risk, much higher risk for suicide than women. And obviously, construction has a very high male population. And then it’s the just the type of people that they are. So it’s the same thing that make the industry great. And make me love and admire every single person that’s on my crew that doing work every day. They’re tough. Perseverance, grit, determination, stick to it, all of that, all of those great traits that help get the job done. And you know, just make them admirable people can also be huge risk factors when, when you enter in a personal crisis, and addiction issue of mental health concern, all of those things, they’re not going to, they don’t want to ask for help, they’re gonna figure it out themselves, they don’t want to appear weak, they don’t want to let anybody down, they’re gonna just figure it out at all costs. And so that just really creates this kind of perfect storm for somebody to not seek help not be open to having a conversation about it. And then can lead to, you know, issues like self medicating and different substance abuse issues. So it can really kind of spiral out of control. And it has a lot to do with just that that population, again, all amazing, great characteristics until until they need to get help.

And then you just look at some of the other elements like the chronic pain associated from, you know, years of hard work or potential, you know, workplace injuries that weren’t properly treated, just schedules. So you know, very erratic scheduling, long hours, you know, that kind of those, those things don’t, aren’t really helpful for somebody who’s living with a mental illness and don’t really provide stability that they might need to be getting the treatment and help that they need to be seeking, time away from home. So remote work, so you know, away from support structures, possibly in environments that aren’t positive, you know, for healthy behaviors, you know, kind of some cyclical elements of the industry, you know, right now, obviously, everybody’s has more work to do than they, and they can, but there are periods of layoffs, which creates some financial instability, alcohol and substance abuse. So it’s kind of part of the culture pretty accepting of, you know, drinking being kind of part of a normal after work activity. And like we talked about before, if they’re not seeking help for things and you’re self medicating to get through them, the pressure of the industry, you know, there’s not a lot of room for screwing up. And if you do, it can be really catastrophic. And when you couple that with, you know, possible management gaps, so leadership gaps in knowing how to positively handle performance issues, corrections that can kind of exacerbate the feelings of letting people down if it’s not properly handled. So, again, you know, really a broad, a broad array, but they’re all


All things that we absolutely can manage better and do better and improve the industry in many ways, you know, kind of by addressing these things from the focus of mental health.

Scott Peper 05:12

This question, Randy, I go directly to you. Do you? Is there things that you feel I’m the there’s obviously Michelle done a great job of pointing out the gaps? And some of the macro issues, I would say, are there things that the industry employers are doing that actually make it worse? Or? Or is it they’re just not as are the things that they just need to do a better job of because of those macro factors? I guess my question really is, are you making it worse in any way?

Randy Thompson 05:41

Sure. It’s a great question. If we could just go back to slide five. Michelle, and I’ll answer your question, Scott. But I just wanted to highlight the fact that, you know, suicide is not simply a construction issue, there’s always a risk in identifying high risk groups, and focusing solely on why suicide behavior is so high.


Suicide is really a societal issue. It’s not just in construction, when we look at the data, year, over a year, there’s approximately 50,000 deaths annually suicide in the US. And I always compare that to, you know, if you think about a ball field, like like Fenway Park,


or where, you know, you have 50,000 seats, just think of the capacity of that park being full. And every year, that number of people die by suicide, not just in the construction industry, it’s over 14 over 14 people, for every 100,000, and about 132 suicides per day. So very impactful when we think about not just the actual suicides, but the attempts, the average is over 25 attempts, you know, per suicide, so it’s not the first time that that individual is actually attempted. So when you think about those numbers, and the deaths annually, it kind of gives you an idea of the impact that suicide has, is in the US.


And for every suicide, the data shows us that there’s approximately 100 or 110 people that are affected by that suicide, I’ll be the person’s family, the workforce, etc. So you can understand the ripple effect that suicide has on a community, let alone, you know, specifically in the construction industry. So I just wanted to highlight some of that, that data, it’s not specific to construction, there are higher risk groups, but suicide affects everyone. And even though organizations may not have had a suicide, it doesn’t mean that suicide is not an issue for them. Yeah, that’s a great point. And expanding,


expanding the topic out even farther from from, from suicide.

Autumn Sullivan 07:54

I think there’s something like 45 or 50 million Americans diagnosed with some form of a mental illness right now. So, you know, there’s definitely someone in your organization who is dealing with this on some level or another.


And I think it helps to know those numbers, right, because it can feel like it’s a lonely, that you’re alone in it, but it’s it’s incredibly common in our in our Well, you got you’re in Canada, but


I don’t know your numbers, but I know in America, it’s it’s it’s it’s prevalent. It’s very, very common. My Go ahead.

Randy Thompson

It is on you’re absolutely right. It is no different in Canada than it is in the US when we look at the numbers. For years, we’ve been reporting that one in four people will have a mental health crisis throughout their lifetime. And that number hasn’t changed in a long time. And it’s and that is a global statistic. So again, you may not have had a significant event with in your workplace. But I assure you that there are issues that people are dealing with that needs to be addressed, that are below, you know, below the surface that you may not even hear about. So having a focus on mental health is critically important, particularly for high risk groups. But even if you don’t fall within that category, doesn’t mean you’re not dealing with mental health issues, or that your staff aren’t dealing with mental health issues. So Scott, to attend to your question, I don’t think employers are making things worse. I think you’re there’s a risk of not doing anything. So to not recognize mental health as an issue is a problem. And not to not recognize suicide as an issue and construction is an even bigger problem. So there are some great things that employers are doing to address mental health but the number one the foundation of it for me is recognize that it’s an issue so that your your your employees and your staff feel safe to be able to talk about mental health, that it isn’t just that it’s recognized by the organization and that you’re actually providing supports for your for your employees.


be confidential.


or not to help them deal with some of these issues and mental health issues that they couldn’t be dealing with because there are a lot of them. You know, anything from financial distress, depression doesn’t have to be, you know, a clinical diagnosis for someone to need help. Right. So, employee assistance programs are often helpful. But you know, that’s just kind of the tip of the iceberg. What I talked organizations about is looking at what’s driving your cost when it comes to absenteeism, when it comes to drug cost, right, you have all that data available to you through your, through your insurance company, through your benefits provider, look at the data, what’s driving your costs, and then start building wellness or mental health programs around that in a very thoughtful way to simply check a box to have any PII is not good enough. And also, Michelle will tell you, when we talk about the construction industry, there is so much focus on physical health and training, organizations need to see mental health just as important. And if you actually take the same steps you take to address your physical health issues or physical health for your employees, and the trainings that you provide certain thinking that in terms of mental health, there are a lot of organizations out there that are able to help, you don’t have to be an expert in it. There is expertise out there. So don’t be afraid to reach out, you have you know, health and safety committees, you have HR support resources I can reach out to to find that help. So don’t be afraid to ask, but the first step is to actually admit that it is an issue and recognize it, and then looking at your data, what’s driving it and come up with some objectives in terms of so what do we want to do? What do we want to achieve? How can we best support our employees to keep them safe and productive at work?

Michelle Walker 11:55

Well, and when we talk about safety, I mean, we, you know, behaving, you know, behavior based safety programs. If somebody’s dealing with either a mental illness, or just a personal crisis, you know, they had, you know, a fight with their spouse last night, and they don’t know, the next time they’re going to see their kids or they’re dealing with a financial issue, their mind is not going to be on the task at hand. And so that’s, you know, you talk about safety incidents, that’s when they happen is when you know, the focus isn’t there. And, you know, I was talking to somebody the other day on the podcast about this, and like he said, if you have a equipment operator that’s going to be out there, you know, moving, you know, equipment, overhead loads over people, if they walk up and tell somebody that they’re physically sick, or that they, you know, had a rough night, the night before, or something like that, due to some like kind of physical thing, they’re not going to put them on that, you know excavator and put them in that high risk. So we need to create the environment where people feel safe to say, I’m not in a mentally safe space today to do this, to, you know, keep people physically safe as well. So it’s also interrelated and connected, and you almost you really can’t talk about safety anymore in a true, comprehensive, caring way, without including the element of mental health along with it.


And it’s a delicate balance to think I think,

Scott Peper 13:23

you have to be able to provide the tools, but you also can’t force people into them to come, you know, and so you can create all the tools you can create the atmosphere. My personal belief is that if you create the atmosphere, as a leader, or as an employer, you also have to step into and lead the way into the meaning to I think you, you know, it starts at the top. And I think you just abdicate the authority to start to have the meaning. But the very top of the leadership doesn’t step in and be vulnerable to share a story. How can anyone else feel comfortable to do that? Because the truth is, not everyone may have had suicidal thoughts, but everyone’s had a bad day. And everyone’s had a really uncomfortable moment where maybe you didn’t think about committing suicide, but half of those thoughts that you just had, would have triggered someone else to. And so it’s the awareness of that, I think is personally more important than even just the awareness of mental health. I think people need to realize there’s parameters. Everybody’s has the same thoughts. It’s just everybody reacts a little differently to them. I don’t think there’s a lot of people walking around and adulthood that haven’t had some bad issues that made them feel pretty shitty, you know, and just what you go about doing about it is the key. So do you guys focus on that for leadership?

Randy Thompson 14:50

Yes, gotta you’re absolutely right. I haven’t met an organization that’s really being effective in managing mental health without executive leadership championing


In that cause, and often that’s where it starts. And that’s where it should start to be the leader to be vulnerable and show that vulnerability to make it okay to talk about the power that leadership has in in, in supporting these initiatives is super critical. And often, that’s where I tell, you know, talk to organizations and consult with them on where you need to start, you need to show it, you know, that started at head office, we have large organizations that are decentralized, they often struggle with, well, how do we do this? Right? How do we ensure that everyone is is is, is getting the same types of supports


across the board, and I often, you know, talk about starting small and start just started head office, right, show the way tested out, and then be able to communicate all the time and cascade, you know, that out to people in the regions so that that support is available, and they know that Geez, you know, if actually asked for help, it’s not going to cost me my job. And actually, it’s actually feels good that someone within the organization, particularly leadership cares about me and my family.

Scott Peper 16:15

Yeah, I think that’s key, because it’s everyone. The other thing is, you can’t make someone talk they’re gonna find out on there, they’re gonna come on their own timeline.


But knowing the atmosphere, if you remove the barriers to the atmosphere of finally speaking, or finally stepping out of uncomfortableness, you’re more likely to have someone raise their hand and say, Hey, I need help. Or if everyone else knows that, at any given time, your the whole company is going to err on the side of hey, are you okay? Like, they’re all going to err on the Hey, it’s okay to be asked. Okay. And it’s okay to look back and say no, you know, like, if that was just the two things that I think everyone did, like, create the atmosphere leader steps into it. And by the way, this, this whole company is going to have a philosophy of, are you okay? And then the answer can be No, I’m not. Like if that if that was it, you probably find a lot more people more comfortable to speak about it, because

Michelle Walker 17:12

I think the lack of community and family and that being alone is what is a big trigger for this. And if you can do contrary to that, which is create and fill a group of people that can go find that people are going to go find their group, you know, and if you don’t create one to walk into, they’re going to go find the one that’s going to actually pour gas on the problem.

Scott Peper 17:36

Absolutely. That leads me to my next question, which I had, which is related to like social media and the factors of social media out there, kind of leading what I was just talking about, I, I feel as though everyone can go find their group now, you know, and good and bad. And so if you’re having bad thoughts, and you start to live in a social media driven world, you’re gonna find a group that might help you, but you’re more likely going to find a group that won’t, is that that’s my personal feeling. What is that? Do you guys find that as well in the social media world, and how that plays into this?

Randy Thompson 18:17

Michelle, do you want to go.

Michelle Walker 18:21

I mean, I just want to spin off quickly on what you were just talking about before, because I think it’s those it’s those creating those safe spaces for people and hoping that then that’s what they’re going to versus the unsafe spaces, like on social media.


So, you know, my personal kind of mission statement, how I set up my work in this is compelling contractors to create caring cultures. So creating those cultures where people do feel safe to ask either for help for themselves or for others. And so, you know, as Randy and I were talking, I’m prepping for this session with him, you know, it might not be that everybody on the team is willing to have that conversation with somebody, but if they know, to watch out for things, and then who to talk to so here in our company, people will come talk to me and say, Hey, I’m really worried about so and so this is what’s going on with them.


And so then I can kind of approach them and watch out for them. But creating those cultures where people are watching out for each other is is such a big important component of it because the person themselves right might not be willing to speak up or, or ask for help, but if they know that other people are watching out for them, that that creates that safe space, that’s so important.


And then yeah, as far as the social media, I mean, I guess the pluses of it are, you know, it’s a way to share positive information if they you know, if you can get it to people and, and resources and help and, and things like that. So to help them know, they’re not alone. There’s nothing, you know, wrong with them for needing help for accessing care, kind of pointing them to directions. But so I guess as an employer, how you encourage that is sharing out those resources and hopefully, people are going to be kind of following and engaging with those so that they can


Another avenue for help, if and when needed.

Randy Thompson 20:04

So, oh three Oh, sorry, Randy, go ahead, I was just gonna say, I totally agree, Michelle, and then there’s always a risk with social media, cuz you’re gonna find the good and the bad. My own personal experience going through a critical illness as I’ve used social media for the good and kind of purge the bad because it because it can be there. I think for organizations,


that makes it even more critical to provide safe spaces for your free employees, whether that be you know, a training program, whether you know, whether that be


mental health support, whatever that is, but ensuring that the employees know how to access those resources, where to access, you know, when to access them, that makes it super important, because you can have the greatest resources available to stop it, if they don’t, if they can access it, or they struggle with it. Because often it is confidential, then there’s, they’re less apt to use those resources that you’ve, you know, that you invested in, and that you have confidence in and start finding other ways to Scott’s point, you know, to get the support that they need. And sometimes it’s not, it’s not, it’s not what they need. So it’s not just having programs, you know, mental health support available, it’s ensuring that your people are aware on how to access it and what it can do for them. The other thing we talked about, just quickly in suicide prevention and living works, is building not just suicide prevention support within the organization, but the key the critical piece in building it in their communities, right, because that construction worker leaves work everyday goes home to an environment has a family has stresses, anxieties, right. And often people when they when they do kill themselves, it isn’t it is at home. So we talked about building communities of safety, not just having suicide awareness and support within the organization, but at home with their families, or where the where they may go pray, right and having it where that individual may also participate or engage in sports or activities, that kind of thing. There’s a lot, there’s less opportunity for them to go elsewhere to try and find support when it’s just surrounding them. So we kind of look at a talk about a public health approach to suicide prevention, that’s really what we encourage is not just focusing them, you know, that individual at work, but ensuring that there’s support, and that there’s awareness, wherever they work, live, play, eat, you know, within their communities. Sorry, autumn, I can

Autumn Sullivan

No, no, no, no worries. That was a, that was an important point. And it leads into my question, actually, because all three of you have talked about creating safe spaces and communities of caring and communities of safety. And I’m thinking of all the construction business owners I’ve known throughout my life. And it sounds like a very tall order for some of them. Like, I can just see some of them saying I’m not equipped to do this. Like, I also am the big tough guy and stoic and I also don’t so. So what what can what can a construction business owner do just to start creating that that work culture?

Randy Thompson 23:29

Yeah, great, great question. And I’ll refer back to a comment I made around just recognizing that it is an issue, that mental health is an issue within the organization.


And, and that kind of starts everything.


Ensuring that there’s support, you know, we talk about upstream, midstream and downstream, right, and that’s really what, what we encourage is ensuring that there’s support, wherever that individual is right, it could be at the beginning of an issue, where you know, we’re able to kind of catch it early and provide that upstream support. Or maybe they’re down, you know, they’re at that suicidal ideation level. And, you know, we need to provide some downstream support as well. So ensuring that you have each level covered, I think is important.


And reach out there’s, there’s a lot of organizations and Michelle will talk about CISSP and the work we do on the board, but in living works as well as an organization that can support to come and talk to us, right be open to getting help, like we tell people you know, be open to getting help. We have to say that to organizations and leaders as bo we open to the help as well. We know you’re not experts in this field, but there are experts out there who can help consult with you and help build a plan. A mental health plan whether it be that or suicide prevention plan that’s tied to it to ensure that you’re you’re supporting your your your employees and their families at each at each level. Whether it’s upstream, midstream, or down and Michelle, you talk much better to this

Michelle Walker 25:00

Slide can I do so? Please? Well, I think the first thing is just recognizing you don’t have to be the expert, you don’t have to know about this. And, and you don’t have to be the person who ultimately helps the person through their issues, you have to have the resources available and know how to connect people to that, but it’s really being that connector to care, not necessarily becoming the caregiver. And I think that’s a really important distinction, because there’s a lot of concern among employers, well, I don’t want to get that kind of entrenched in people’s personal things. And plus, I’m just not equipped to help them through all these issues. And so it’s really recognizing you don’t have to be the one that’s actually doing the, the fixing, you have to know how to, you have to have the resources available and be willing to connect them to those resources, is the important part along with being you know, caring and following up and all those things, but but you don’t have to be the actual, you know, doer of the plan.


And then it’s, it’s starting that conversation. So again, we you know, we’ve talked about that bold leadership support that vocal leadership support for things, and then, you know, making this be something that people start getting a little bit comfortable talking about. So I’m not going to say, become totally comfortable, because it’s, it’s not a totally comfortable topic for for many people to talk about. And especially not in construction company, in the workplace, with your co workers, things like that. So start the conversation. So include it in, you know, company meetings, if you have a newsletter that covers wellness things, you know, including information on mental wellness as part of that, having, you know, in your resources, making sure that information on, you know, suicide prevention, lifeline, crisis support, you know, those types of things are included in the conversation, hanging up posters, so we’ll hopefully at the end, go out to the CISSP website, and you can show you kind of some of the things that are there, but we have posters that you can hang up on your job site, poster boards, you know, just right along with your, you know, OSHA postings and all that


toolbox talks so that you can talk about it in, you know, as a safety topic. So the one thing that constructions got going for it, and why I think we’ve made the strides that we have in the short period of time versus some other industries that have tried to kind of adopt this at an industry wide level is that we are so safety focused, and this really fits right in with that safety culture, if you if you will be willing to build it in. And so, you know, having it be a part of your toolbox talks, you know, our tha, you know, our morning tests, hazard analysis. JJ, we added on that, you know, Are you mentally ready to work today? So, you’re breathing in that conversation of, it’s more than just, you know, are you physically able? Or do you have a sore back and you shouldn’t be lifting today? things? But are you physically Are you mentally ready and able to be able to work and perform today? And so, you know, it’s just, it’s, it’s starting that and just getting people comfortable with it. And I can tell you, it’s not, it’s not easy when you start because the first you know, safety meeting that you’re at, and you say, we’re going to talk about suicide, and you get, you know, a roomful of blank stares kind of staring at you, like you have two heads, and why on earth are you talking to me about this, but over the years, it starts getting easier, and people don’t look at you, like you’re crazy anymore. And they start being willing to talk and share and things like that, and then just building it up to other business practices that are normal. So, you know, a great opportunity is during group health enrollment time, so you know, open are, you know, here, our company open enrollment was in May, our plan renews June 1. And so typically the open enrollment meeting, you go over benefits and you talk about, you know, go to the urgent care instead of the ER because your copay is going to be lower. And if you go to this doctor, it’s this not talk about behavioral health benefits, talk about, you know, if you need to seek behavioral health, this is the directory, this is how to access it, it’s the same copay, as you know, your primary care physician, you know, whatever it is, talk about it as part of the benefits as part of the that that overall wellness thing, that your mental wellness is a part of your overall wellness and, and tried to stop separating that physical and mental wellness component, but really just build it into we care about all of you. And that includes, you know, from head to toe, not just kind of neck down.

Scott Peper 29:27

Do you guys share I would call it success stories, but stories of people who have been in a great environment one that we’re all trying to would like to create that can say, oh, because of this, this, these are things that happen. But because of this environment, I was able to recognize that I felt comfortable raise my hand and I avoided suicide because of XY and Z. Is there a Is there a place to share those stories and are they being shared now?

Michelle Walker 29:58

Well, we would love to have those stories.


As they aren’t readily shared, just because it is still a pretty sensitive personal topic that people are just kind of getting to the place where they’re willing to share. I personally have some, and I would love to share one here and I, you know, but a young man work for us, kind of off and on for a couple of years. And one day, his manager called me


again, after me talking about this for several years and, and doing training on warning signs and things. I was actually at home for the day, but he called me and said, Something’s wrong with him. Like he’s, he’s, he’s not, he’s identified, like, he’s just not acting, right. He’s not. He’s not well, he’s, and so I called him into my office, and I asked him, Are you okay? And he just broke down and started crying. And he says, I don’t think that he’s safe. I don’t think he’s safe to go out to work today. I don’t know what to do. I said, keep them there. And I’m on my way. And I came in, and I met with a young man and talk to him. And I had to ask him, and it was the first time that I had to, you know, put the living works training into practice. And I had to say, you know, are you thinking about killing yourself? And he said, I’m not right now. But I have. And I said, Okay, thank you. Thank you for being open. Thank you for sharing that with me. And can I please help get Can I please help you get help? And he said, Yes. And so, you know, we I contact, you know, he was young and single, but he allowed me to call his mom and we talked to his mom together and assured like she, she was meeting up with him so that he wouldn’t be alone. And he would go stay with her. And then, you know, got him connected to help through our behavioral health benefits. And he, he ended up leaving the company a few months later to go on to another opportunity that he was ultimately working for, but he’ll still call every, you know, four or five months or so. And just say, I know, I was there at that moment for a reason, because you, sorry,


you these, these things are real. And so that’s just one story. That just happened in our little company here. And so I have to believe that, you know, dozens of those stories are happening every day. And if we can get people to share them, I think hopefully, that’s what’s going to compel a lot of people to start taking this action in their organizations. Yeah, you know, hearing that story. And this is why I love the stories to be told because it they relate everybody can relate to a story more than a newspaper or slide presentation.

Scott Peper 32:28

And I think what you what I’ve heard from, specifically from you, Michelle, and the organization that you’re operating in, is you have a culture that has been created in the company, not just for mental health, but your overall culture, I bet your overall culture is pretty positive, I bet you people that come to work there feel like they’re being poured into versus poured out of, they probably don’t feel like they’re a conduit to, to an outcome of success for the business owner only, they probably feel like they’re part of a team, you know, and if you are part of a team, people are going to be more comfortable to help their teammate, if you’re just a cog in the wheel, for the benefit of the few. No one likes that. And so I think that’s where it really starts. And if you then put a mental health meaning into that culture, you’re probably going to find great success. And so it’s no surprise that you do have that story. Because


it was, it’s probably in front of every company every day, or at least in some fashion over the course of a couple of years. If you’re there long enough, even if you have a small company only, you know, a handful of people.


This stats are the stats. So you just happen to create an environment where someone could feel comfortable, raise their hand and think about those three or four steps in that story. You created the company, you you educated to it, it was another person who had who had to act, then recognize then create an action actually call you you had to listen and act yourself. And there’s a lot of steps there. And if that wasn’t because you had a mental health meeting and a poster, it was way before that. I think that’s the thing. I’d want anyone listening and paying attention to this, particularly leaders to really pay attention to smile. That’s my thought on that. Yeah, no 100%, right. You can’t think you say this has to be baked in it can’t be bolted on. So you can’t be a company where people are scared to bring up issues or talk or you know, that they’re gonna get in trouble. If they’re walking on eggshells, and suddenly you say, Hey, we care about your mental health and we want to watch out for you. They’re going to have as much trust and reliance in that as you know, there’s not and so, you know, it really has to be part something that’s really baked in and it’s part of a caring culture is absolutely where it starts. Yeah. And when it comes when it comes to suicide prevention in particular, there’s no like there’s no ownership specifically up that right


within an organization and in fact, the reality is anyone can be a helper, we truly believe that it’s not specifically your manager, you know, or the president or the executive that are responsible for it. When it comes to suicide prevention,


the organization really needs to own it and understand that anyone can be a helper, it’s the question of what type of helper that person wants to be, some of them are prepared to engage the way Michelle did, right and have that conversation and be able to work a safety plan with that individual. Some people, you know, it’s just too much, it’s overwhelming, because we’re asking them to have conversations that are not natural, right, we don’t often ask someone if they’re thinking of killing themselves, let alone you know, even at home. So it’s important to recognize that it’s, we all own the issue within the organization, from the, you know, labor right to the President. And it’s important to be able to offer some, we talked about support and training for people, because there is a training, important training component, too, it’s not just natural for people to have these conversations, and be able to have safe conversations and build a safety plan with that individuals. So to make it available to everyone is important. So they all feel like they can be a part of it. We’ll talk a little bit maybe later on around

Randy Thompson 36:27

company called Mates in Construction, that is specifically suicide prevention in the construction industry. And it’s about organizations owning their program. It’s not living works. It’s not, you know, sec underground, it’s, it’s that organization who owns it, and everyone within the organization has a role to play in suicide prevention and supporting their mates. So I just want to mention that it’s not, it’s not just leadership that, you know, that should be trained on how to support, it’s Everyone that owns that, and that kind of helps create that caring culture. Yeah.

Autumn Sullivan 37:04

Yeah, I think that’s so important. Because a lot of times, you don’t want to go to your leader, even if you you know, even if you have a good caring culture, in your company, you might, you might have a hesitation to go directly to your boss and tell them that you’re having a mental health crisis, because it because there’s the risk of it having a financial effect on your family, right, like, oh, I won’t be able to work. If I don’t work, I don’t make money. And if I don’t make money, my kids don’t eat. So you just bury it, but you tell your friend, right. And so your friend on the job also needs to know, also has to have some tools and support on how to help you through that moment, and how to get you into the into a plan for safety. Right, they also need to be empowered, so that they can feel like they can handle that moment.

Randy Thompson

Yeah, absolutely. And they need to know who they can go to. Right. So we have to be it creates an openness, right culture of openness, which is important as well. And that has great ripple effect, just in terms of people’s mental health, right, they know, they are safe in that organization in that environment, a lot of construction work, you know, they they go off site, they work remotely for weeks and weeks, right? Where they don’t have immediate access to family are supports. So even more important in those in those locations, that that there’s that there’s support within that site, that they know that they can talk to someone and it’s often not their boss, autumn. So

Autumn Sullivan 38:32

yeah, training needs to be, I think, available for everyone. So let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the resources that are available. We have about 15 minutes left, and I want to talk about where where people can go to find resources, what the warning signs are people should be looking for, and then open it up for any questions. So I know you guys have a slide of resources, right? Yeah. Sure. You want to? Did we hit the read the warning signs? I think we had a slide on that, too. I don’t think we’ve gone through them yet. Whichever one you guys want to take first. I just want to make sure we get to both of those. Sure. Yeah. And then we can be and I think the warning signs are, are fairly, some of them are fairly obvious. Some of them are not, but they’re fairly consistent. And there’s a list here, and we often ask, you know, what would you look for in someone but the to me the core is

Randy Thompson 39:22

it what you’re looking for is a change in behavior with that individual, right? Someone might be moody all the time. So having mood swings is no surprise, right? Because Dave’s always like that. But, but Bob isn’t and all of a sudden, you know, Bob who used to be really excited. You know, he was always very engaged as all of a sudden withdrawing from activities. We don’t see Bob very much. So there are different signs that you can look for, you know, you know, someone comes to work disheveled or they’re appearing sad. Clearly there’s something going on there. They’re or they’re depressed. You know, we often see an increase in alcohol or drug use


with someone who might be dealing with some crisis, but at the, at the end of the day, the core of it to me is, is it’s a change in behavior that you’ve noticed over time.


And that’s something that could could actually


click that there’s, there’s something going on there. And that’s where it gets back to that element of community and culture is if you if you have a workplace where those kind of communities are built, and people have enough of a relationship with each other to notice the changes, that’s kind of step one, because it’s hard to recognize changes in somebody if you’re kind of working with a different group every day, and you don’t have any of those established relationships. And then the other element of work of kind of warning signs is again, changes in behavior, but really ones that are tied directly to

Michelle Walker 40:48

their performance at work. So really, you know, decrease problem solving, self confidence, productivity, and then an increase in tardiness, absenteeism, so suddenly, they’re, you know, every Monday they’re off, or they’re coming in late every day with kind of No, no reason, no explanations, increase in conflict increase, you know, we talked before about the safety element increase in your hits, injuries, incidents. So it’s those performance issues. And the really key thing as an employer to recognize as being aware of this and approaching things from the standpoint of instead of instantly addressing it with corrective action, asking why is there this change? Why is this employee who was never late is suddenly late three days a week. And so instead of addressing it instantly, with disciplinary action, asking the question, hey, we’ve noticed this change, is there something going on, that we can help you with that’s creating this and opening up that conversation and allowing them to share, as opposed to if if the first, if the first way that you’re addressing this is, here’s your write up and your final warning, and if you’re late again, you’re fired. Probably that person’s not going to show up the next day. And now you’ve lost any capacity to help that person and probably have X exacerbated what you know, whatever issue they were dealing with. So really taking that


kind of caring about the person approach and trying to find and understand the underlying issues and root causes versus just dealing with the performance from a disciplinary approach. And there’s we talked about resources, and often come from the world of EPs, and most EPS at their core does offer training, particularly for managers to be able to have those conversations to train them on, what are the signs and symptoms to look for? What are you looking for? What are the performance issues, and how to have a conversation with an employee that shows that you know that you’ve recognized that there’s an issue that you care about them, and that you’re able to lead them to resources, regardless of what it is because you don’t want your managers being the therapist, but you want to ensure that you have the right resources available to that individual to recommend so that they follow up.

Michelle Walker 43:00

So that’s a great lead into resources. So Randy, would you be okay, if I navigated out to the website? Absolutely. Okay.


Let’s see if I can.


Okay, can you see the website now? Yes. Okay, great. So we’ll go through a few more other resources after but this is the construction industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, that I mentioned that Randy and I are both a part of the leadership of, and we have a ton of resources on here, that are all available at no charge to anybody who wants to access them. So they’re here. And so you really don’t have to invent anything, create anything, you can come here and take everything and get a really great start. Um, so here under the get involved.


Tab is sorry, get informed.


They just recently redid the website, and I clearly am not as familiar with it. So under here, there’s all of these different items. So building awareness, integrating things, the toolbox talks that I mentioned, are here available to download the training. So first of all, I’ll just go to the Integration tab real quick here. And this just talks a lot about that element that we talked about of how do you how do you really start a program in the workplace. So this needs analysis and an integration checklist. This is a live PDF document that has links in it. So it kind of asks you questions about things you may or may not be doing and then gives you suggestions to address them if you’re if you need to work on those areas, with links to resources kind of on our website off our website, all of our so that’s a really great document. And then there’s some videos here. So you know, what we’ve talked about today is kind of spurred some questions and you want to learn a little bit more. You want some videos to share with your teams. This is a six part video series that we put together that kind of breaks down some of the elements and it’s good to share. So there’s one specifically on warnings


So that’s a great one to kind of pop into a safety meeting or something kind of really practical.


You know, here’s the warning signs and what to, you know, kind of super quick overview of what to do about it. And so those are there. Also the training as a bonus, you actually get Michelle, who actually did those videos as your presenter, so you can’t go wrong. That’s not the selling point, right? Yes.


Click off of that, I’m not going to that. And so on our website also is the link to the living works training. So this is the organization that Randy is a part of. And that to the serious P is partnering with as a training provider. And so we have underwriting available to be able to offer training to part of your team at no cost through this. And so there’s just a link here that you click, you fill out the form, and then we can send you licenses. You can also work directly with Randy, if you want to kind of set up a more robust training program. But it’s it’s a 60 to 90 minute, it’s really closer to 90 minutes, if you do it properly. It’s called start, but it’s totally online based. And so it’s a great tool to kind of be able to equip people to have those conversations to recognize warning signs. And again, they might not, you know, they might go through this and they still I’m still not comfortable to have that conversation. But they’re going to have a lot more awareness to and know what to do and how to kind of connect people with help a lot better after that. So it’s a really great tool that I’d recommend definitely leaders, but you know, we had all of our field leader, so any crew, leader foreman, that type of those frontline managers, this is a great tool for them, because ultimately, they’re the ones that know the employees have those relationships can recognize the signs, that kind of thing. So this is, I would definitely recommend that level for them.


Another thing that’s on here, is


the screening tool. And it’s another great way to if you have you know a wellness program, and you’re doing biometric screenings and things to encourage people to be physically healthy, this is a great way to kind of weave mental health into that is encouraging, taking a mental health screening. So this is another one of our partners mind wise, and you click on this link, and it just takes you out. And it’s totally anonymous. But you can go through some different screening tools for mental health, and there’s just kind of a broad general one. But what it does is and why I encourage all of our employees to do it is even if you’re not struggling with something, it’s a really great tool to build that awareness and that mental health literacy, to be able to recognize some things because by the questions that it’s asking, you go, Oh, I didn’t know that that was something that could you know, be be an issue for somebody. So it really is a key part of kind of building that literacy. And then the last thing I’ll point out real quick here is just to take the pledge. So this is, you know, like I said, everything on the site is free, no cost totally available. But we we we want to build kind of momentum and, and presence in the industry for these efforts. And so we love to have companies sign on to say that they’re going to stand up for suicide prevention. And so it’s just a, it’s a pledge that just saying that you’re going to address this in your workplace, it doesn’t commit you to anything, it doesn’t do anything, but stand. And you’ve seen it on some of the slides, but Stan stands for safe. So creating those safe environments that we’ve talked about training. So the training element is, is that important. It’s part of our, you know, slogan for our


organization. So you know, you’ve got to get people trained, so that they have the information to be able to approach this awareness, making people aware that this is even an issue, normalizing the topic. So getting people comfortable talking about it, making them know that they’re, you know, they can talk about it, there’s they’re not alone, if they’re dealing with these issues, and then decreasing obviously, with the ultimate goal of decreasing suicide in our industry. So that’s on here. It’s just like I said, a quick,


quick click, and we would love to have people sign on. It also then gets you onto our mailing lists and things like that to continue to receive information. And there’s somebody making a commitment, right? When you say pledge a low, you’re not tied to anything, you’re not bound to anything, but the mental

Randy Thompson 49:21

power of making a commitment to doing something will actually incite behavior and likelihood that you’ll actually do something about it. So taking the pledge we think as important

Scott Peper 49:33

that is great. And these all these resources are right here on this website. So there’s an easy way to get started and easy way to implement it. And most importantly, just start having conversations to help create again, well we talked about an atmosphere where it’s comfortable for someone to talk about it you we don’t need to you’re not soliciting. Here. You’re just making sure the environment is is proper and the people in it are


We’re also aware, so that when and if this does happen, someone can help prevent it. Yeah. And I’ll make sure that

Autumn Sullivan 50:08

all of these resources are in the description in our YouTube replay as well so that people can, people can access them easily. We only have about three minutes left, we have no questions at the moment, which I’m kind of surprised by.


So I’ll just open up the room. If you Oh, I did want to say one thing when you were talking about


talking about telling, telling stories, Scott, and I was thinking to myself about the Deer Park campaign, the department in which we started a mobilization funding, which was our way of helping to


move the needle on some of the challenges in construction, including mental health and you know, greater transparency and communication between all partners, and,


and a bunch of other issues. But one of the things I was thinking was, I talk very openly on my LinkedIn about my issues with anxiety and my struggle with anxiety and depression, I’m, I’m just that kind of person, I’m happy to share my stories in the hopes that it makes someone feel less alone.


And I think that one thing that we could do, and I’ve seen it in on LinkedIn, I’m very


heartened by by the stories I see on LinkedIn, that’s one thing we can do if you are in a space where you can tell your story, tell your story on a platform, where where multiple people can see it, because it normalizes the conversation. It removes the stigma, when you say, Oh, my boss told story about having depression, or you know, my coworker shared her story of having, you know, crippling anxiety, whatever, whatever your story is, you’re not alone in it. And when you share it, you feel less alone, and someone else feels less alone. And you make social media that replace your bank, your bank,

Randy Thompson

I’ll just chime in here because I to use social media for my journeys. You know, I’ve been struggling with stage four cancer, gone through just a whole bunch of terrible things in the last couple of years with the onset of the pandemic. And I’ve used social media as a means to share my story. And what it’s done is it’s engaged a whole ton of people, most of who I didn’t know before in the conversation, and sharing those stories is so critical. And the interesting thing about LinkedIn is, you know, I use it a lot for professionally as well. And when I share a story or an article or something, I may get a couple of 100 hits, when I share a personal story about my journey I’ve had sometimes over 10,000, which just gives tells you the importance and the impact that sharing real stories, and being vulnerable and open to support can have on you. So I told him, I’m with you autumn on that. Thank you. Yeah, and those of us I’m sure, Randy are positive, there’s people pouring into, you know, time buying them, you know, bashing down? Absolutely. It’s all about resources, support resiliency, hope, right, I call it my bright lights. And Scott, not one negative response or comment, have I seen over the last two years since I’ve been going through this. So

Scott Peper 53:14

likewise, I can say the same for our experience on LinkedIn, in my mind, personally, I had an enormous amount of people pour into us more than anyone tried to pour out or hurt or damage or be negative.

Scott Peper 53:31

And it’s not even I mean, I don’t even think about it as a negative thing at all, because it very rarely happens if at all. And actually the time that this couple times I can think of somebody said something negative. There was such an overwhelming response from everyone else. Yeah. Me to be responding to it that I never even went and talked about it. I didn’t even address it. So yeah, it’s a good way to it’s good place to use. But you know what your intent is pure. And that’s what’s important. You know, when you have good intent, and you truly are trying to help people realize that they understand it, they can feel it, they can sense it even on social media. And so I think that’s really the most beneficial and better back home. Absolutely. I think what both of you guys are doing


is I just want to say your time and your energy and what you guys have put into it all, and especially coming on and sharing your loss.

Randy Thompson 54:34

My pleasure. Yes.

Autumn Sullivan

Thank you so much for giving us your time today. And thank you everyone for joining us. I will send out a replay link in an email and I will also post it to Scott’s LinkedIn. So if you are joining us on LinkedIn live, there will be a replay available there. All of our replays are available on our YouTube channel and on our website. And then I’ll make sure all of the resources that Randy and Michelle talked about are also included in the video.

Scott Peper

Yes, please go on and connect with both Randy and Michelle. They have great resources not only that they’ve shared here but also on their own personal LinkedIn. And it’s just good information. And I hope this helped everybody and hope everyone gets a chance. And beware, there’s a lot of people out there just ask somebody if they’re okay. It’s alright. If you get a gut feeling to say, are you alright? Just ask. Okay. No one’s no one’s gonna yell at you for asking them if they’re okay. I promise. Absolutely. Absolutely. Thank you guys. Have a good rest of your day, everybody. Thank you.