Jamie McMillan, the founder of KickAss Careers and an advocate for women in the skilled trades, has launched a new YouTube channel with fellow ambassador Dee Durant to highlight mental illness struggles in the construction sector.
The first episode of the video series Building Resilience was posted Aug. 2. McMillan, trained as an ironworker, said Building Resilience is intended for all construction workers, not just women.
“We want to create a community where people feel safe, and they can share their stories with us if they like,” said McMillan. “The more we raise awareness about this, the more people are going to start to understand their own struggles.
“What we definitely don’t want to do is make it specific about women because we want to make sure that we’re talking to everyone, especially underrepresented groups.”
Research from sources such as the Center for Workplace Mental Health has suggested multiple factors likely contribute to higher suicide rates and mental health concerns in the construction industry, including the stigma and fear of consequences associated with mental health issues and seeking help; chronic pain and drug use; separation from family when working away from home; and long hours, high stress and deadline-driven work.
Both McMillan and Durant have ADHD. McMillan suggests there could be a higher prevalence of ADHD in the construction sector, which can lead to a stream of mental health problems.
“When you think about the construction industry, it’s always had a bad rap. And one of the big reasons why it’s always had a bad rap is because it tends to be filled with a lot of people who seem to be emotionally immature at times, which is interesting, because when you think about construction, you always think about…people who struggled with boredom and boredom stems a lot from ADHD.”
Many people with ADHD don’t know how to regulate their emotions, McMillan said. She got proper treatment for her condition later in life and suddenly realized why she had so many struggles over the years with her mental health, feeling like she never fit in, and she had problems with executive decision-making.
“One of the other things that we have is called rejection sensitivity dysphoria. We have a really hard time not taking things personally.”
Building Resilience will feature McMillan, of Hamilton, and Durant, an apprentice carpenter from Brantford, Ont., talking about their experiences and they also plan to invite guests and perhaps mental health professionals, McMillan said.
“We have a disclosure, we’re not medical professionals. We can’t give medical advice, but we are sharing what we’ve learned through our own therapy. We have both seen counsellors…and we’ve done a lot of research on our own diagnoses. So we’re sharing what our opinions are and how we dealt with things.”
Besides KickAss careers, which advocates for young women entering the trades, McMillan also has her personal brand Made in the Trades, which co-ordinates her corporate speaking engagements. Building Resilience will be a separate initiative. It’s intended the videos will be about 10 to 12 minutes long and they will be posted every two weeks.
“We’ve noticed that this is something that isn’t really out there,” said McMillan. “Not a lot of people are willing to speak very vulnerably about their circumstances or about their mental health.”
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