Breaking Down Barriers: Mental Health Awareness in the Construction Industry

Electrical worker wearing a helmet and safety vest sits near a building while checking his smartphone.

The construction industry can be a high-pressure environment, which comes with unique challenges when it comes to addressing and navigating mental health. If you are looking to help cultivate healthy work environments and break down the barriers concerning mental health in the construction sector, check out the resources and information below.

Understanding Mental Health Challenges in the Construction Trade  

Nearly one-fifth of construction tradespeople experience some form of mental health issue. According to the CDC, the construction industry holds one of the highest suicideThe construction industry loses more workers to suicide than workplace accidents. rankings when compared to other professions in the U.S. In addition, numerous veterans are drawn to careers in construction due to their mission-driven approach. Sadly, they also confront a heightened risk of suicide, with an estimated 22 cases daily, surpassing the risk in the general population.

These facts highlight the increasing need to prioritize mental well-being for our brothers and sisters working in this field. 

Multiple factors contribute to the mental health crisis within the construction industry. These can include:

  • Long hours that lead to fatigue, which can exacerbate depression and anxiety.
  • Physically demanding work in sometimes precarious situations. The combination of hard labor in risky settings can increase feelings of stress and trigger anxiety.
  • Unpredictable job security and on-site injuries. These issues contribute to concerns about finances, compounding feelings of hopelessness and worry.

While our industry is fast-paced and demanding, we always come together as a team to tackle every task and produce exceptional results. Just as we prioritize each other’s physical safety, we can also extend the same dedication and compassion to the mental well-being of our industry workers.

4 Strategies for Building a Supportive Environment

Mental well-being should be prioritized in all industries; the construction sector is no exception. As leaders, contractors, and tradespeople, we should learn best practices to createThe construction industry loses more workers to suicide than workplace accidents. a supportive environment. Not only will it keep our robust workforce healthy and happy, but it will also ease tensions felt by management, such as retaining a skilled labor pool.

1) Open Up Channels of Communication

It’s no secret that there is a stigma surrounding mental health, which means some people might not feel comfortable taking the initiative to come to employers or coworkers about their struggles. Creating a safe space where workers can address concerns can open the door to productive conversations.

2) Prioritize On-Site Down Time 

Reduce burnout and fatigue by scheduling adequate periods of rest. Rest periods allow workers to re-energize their bodies and minds, helping boost work productivity and improve safety. 

3) Be Aware of Changes in Behavior 

There are some behaviors that workers present while struggling with mental health. Keep an eye out for changing behaviors such as:

  • Episodes of on-site conflicts with co-workers 
  • Diminished productivity 
  • Noticeable issues with problem-solving skills
  • Increased instances of lateness and absenteeism
  • Distractions leading to near accidents and injuries

4) Utilize Free Resources for Construction Industry Workers

The Construction Suicide Prevention Project (CSPP) represents a diverse range of construction industry stakeholders, including companies, unions, safety experts, and healthcare partners. Their goal is to foster a workplace culture where discussions about mental health are as common as safety updates, benefiting both large and small construction businesses.

They provide an array of resources to assist with initiating, promoting, and sustaining a program for preventing suicide and substance abuse. Furthermore, they offer an abundance of resources and information to educate, inform, and support tradespeople in addressing their mental health and substance abuse concerns.

About the NECA/IBEW Local 48 Partnership 

The Oregon Columbia Chapter of NECA and IBEW Local 48 partnership propels the electrical industry with a focus on integrity, quality, safety, and expertise.

Visit our membership page to learn about how to become a member, benefits, and more.


View or download our guide to mental health resources for construction and electrical industry workers.