We were lucky enough to have two team members from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) as guests on our DirtStories podcast. Jack Veitch and Stephanie Jones joined Becca Grieb to talk about mental health, what it is, the importance of challenging the stigma surrounding it and the strength it takes to ask for help.
As an outcome of the podcast, Jack and Stephanie were kind enough to share some resources and information provided by the Canadian Mental Health Association.
For our readers who are in the US, there are a number of online resources and assistance provided by the National Institute of Mental Health and Mental Health.gov.
All quotes are taken from DirtStories Ep 12: Canadian Mental Health Association on Mental Health in Construction. Listen to the podcast here or find DirtStories in Spotify, Google Play or Apple Podcasts.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health is not only described as the avoidance of serious mental illness. Everyone has mental health and it is affected by a number of daily factors. Stress, work-life balance, relationships and day-to-day moods all impact your mental health.
“Everyone has mental health, the same way everyone has physical health. You can get sick mentally the same way you can get sick physically… It’s a fluid state.”
The goal isn’t to not feel sad or mad or angry – those are all human emotions that we have for a reason. Mental Health is about having the coping mechanisms to bounce back from these states and to recognize when you feel stuck in one place for longer periods than you should. As Jack said, mental health is a fluid state and should be looked at as such.
Mental Health in Construction
As we’ve explored in past blogs, mental health is often referred to as the silent epidemic in the construction industry. According to Statistics Canada, ⅓ – or 33% – of men in the construction industry report poor mental health.
In one survey, 64% of construction workers wished that their employers did more to support mental health. In the US, construction workers have the highest suicide rate compared to every other industry.
One of the biggest factors around these statistics is the stigma that surrounds mental health, talking about your feelings and asking for help. Construction is still largely male-dominated and there are many gender stereotypes that stand in the way of making real change.
The conversation, however, is growing. More and more men and women in the industry are starting to speak up about the need to support mental health and challenge the stigma. We are on our way to making this industry safer and healthier for us all.
Mental Health During COVID
It can be especially trying on our mental health right now. Dealing with increased isolation, fear about what is happening in our world and the level of uncertainty that has been created by COVID is challenging for us all.
We are all feeling more isolated from our friends and family. The things we may do to take care of our mental health such as going camping, people watching, exercise, or spending time with loved ones may be interrupted by closures. On top of this, no one really knows what’s coming next for us as a global community.
“Everyone needs to be self-compassionate.”
The CMHA put together a list of 10 things you can do right now to reduce stress and worry related to COVID-19.
Online and Digital Resources for Your Mental Health
The CMHA shared a digital document listing some helpful apps and websites that act as helpful tools for tracking your mental health and staying connected to your friends and family. These include online digital game sites like Jackbox Games, entertainment apps like TikTok, and video-chat apps like ZOOM are included in the list.
Also included on this list are some mental wellness apps. Meditation apps and sleep aid apps such as Calm and Headspace are listed. Mindshift is an app that is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy strategies to help teach mindfulness, effective thinking and taking charge of anxiety. MoodMission challenges the user to feel empowered in overcoming negative emotions while providing suggestions for coping mechanisms for anxiety.
These are just a few examples of what’s on the list. Explore the full document below:
One of the biggest messages with this podcast episode was that it’s never too early or too late to seek help for your mental health. You should never feel silly or like you’re overreacting – if you feel like you want to seek help then do it.
“There is no checklist to mental health and mental illness – never a specific set of points you have to fill first before you get to start to improve your mental health. There are things you can do – simple lifestyle changes that can help. You don’t have to wait.”
Bounce Back Program
One of the many programs that CMHA provides is the Bounce Back program. A free, self-guided program that is grounded in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) practices, this program aims to help those aged 15+ to develop skills to help support their mental health.
By developing productive and healthy coping mechanisms to manage low moods, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry, this program helps to give people the tools to monitor their own mental health for their entire lives.
For more information on Bounce Back, how it works, and what you need to do to get started, visit the CMHA website.
You Are Not Alone
One of our key takeaways after the interview was that no one ever has to feel alone. Whether you want to challenge the stigma on your construction site, to ask for help for yourself or to ask a friend if they’re doing okay, there is no reason to be afraid.
As Mr. Rogers once said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”
Let’s keep this conversation going and help to reduce the stigma around mental health – both in construction and outside of construction.
USA Mental Health and Wellness Resources
From helplines to online resources, there are ways to educate yourself around mental health. While online resources are a great way to educate yourself and to learn about different programs, going to your doctor or local clinic for help is a great first step to take. These professionals will be able to provide more specific help. Another great resource could be your company’s HR department, depending on how comfortable you are with asking for help.
Remember: It takes strength and bravery to stand up for yourself and ask for help.
The National Institute of Mental Health
Providing everything from statistics and fact sheets about mental health to specific information about PTSD, men and mental health and health topics from anxiety disorders to traumatic events and everything in between.
For primary information and education, the National Institute of Mental Health is a great place to start.
Access to helplines, information for young adults, and to find resources local to you, this website answers any questions from “what is mental health” to how to get help for yourself or a friend or family member. This website also has some great resources about how to talk about mental health and how to recognize warning signs in those around you.
No Shame on U
A third-party website, this site features a list of many different US resources and links. These links include tips for affordable mental health treatment, LGBTQ suicide prevention resources and the National Council for Behavioral Health.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you or someone you know is considering taking their own life, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free and confidential crisis hotline available 24/7.