“BTEA Supports Mental Health in Construction”

The Building Trades Employers’ Association (BTEA), representing 1,200 union contractors in New York, is working to raise awareness about the importance of mental wellness in the construction industry, noting that September 4-8 is Construction Suicide Prevention Week. September is also National Suicide Prevention Month, which also draws attention to treatment services available to people seeking help and assistance.

Approximately 5,000 construction workers die from suicide each year, and five times as many construction workers die from suicide than from a work-related injury. Construction workers are nearly four times more likely to die from suicide than the average American.

In response to these alarming facts the BTEA chose to make mental wellness and suicide prevention the sole focus of its annual safety conference, SAFEBUILD, where hundreds of employers, union construction workers and mental health professionals discussed the importance of reducing the stigma associated with mental health and connecting services to those in distress.

“Our member construction employers understand that there’s more to safety than preventing physical injuries on job sites,” said Elizabeth Crowley, President and CEO of the BTEA. “They are focused on total wellness, recognizing that employees are all vulnerable to stress. Our collective success in work and life demands that we look out for one another.”

There are a number of factors that make construction workers more susceptible to mental health challenges than other professionals, including irregular work schedules and a greater risk of injury which can lead to addiction. The BTEA is letting all construction companies and their workers know there are helpful resources available, and that they should be open about discussing the subject.

As part of its campaign, the BTEA is making a suicide awareness video and other resources available for its member companies and workers, including hardhat stickers with the message: “It’s Ok To Not Be Ok” along with the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 988 phone number.

Crowley said the BTEA is working with construction firms and workers to provide helpful resources and encourage those in trouble to seek help. The effort includes on-site “toolbox talks” encouraging workers in trouble to seek counseling and services.

“For an industry known for its grit and dedication, acknowledging the need to address total wellness will make us even stronger,” Crowley said. “It’s our hope that this campaign will boost awareness, reduce the stigma, and ultimately save lives.”

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