VICTORIA — B.C. has long been ground zero for substance use-related deaths which often are related to mental health issues.
As the country focuses on the stigma around mental health issues on Bell Let’s Talk Day, the construction industry remains particularly impacted.
Research shows one in three construction workers across the country — union or non-union — reported “problematic substance abuse” and one in two stated they felt like they had mental health issues they were struggling with.
An in-depth analysis of 872 overdose deaths from the BC Coroners Service found that 44 per cent of people were employed at the time of death and of those employed, 55 per cent were employed in the trades and transport industry. The vast majority of these deaths were men in their 30s and 40s using alone.
The problem in B.C. has become so bad that several years ago the province declared a state of emergency.
Last year, the DCN and JOC launched our national series Cracks in the Foundation: Mental Health, Substance Use and Construction, which featured three instalments delving into all facets of what has been coined by many as “the other pandemic.”
It’s apparent the construction industry has responded in a variety of ways, including resources for employers and employees.
Here are some of those resources:
- The Tailgate Toolkit Project is an innovative program aimed at increasing access to harm reduction services and ideas for those working in the construction industry. Employers can use the program to host a tailgate talk, receive training and connect employees to harm reduction resources. (www.thetailgatetoolkit.com)
- Hammer Time is a non-religious social support group being delivered in a partnership between the Vancouver Island Construction Association and the Umbrella Society. Hammer Time happens on Zoom every Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. and is facilitated by Umbrella Society staff who have lived experience of working in the construction industry and substance use. Join the group’s Zoom Meeting here (Meeting ID: 845 2308 9259 and Passcode: 379893).
- Unionized workers can get in-depth alcohol and drug treatment from the Construction Industry Rehab Plan. The program offers counseling, day programs, family assistance, telehealth services, opioid free pain service and even residential treatment. (www.constructionrehabplan.com)
- To ensure drugs are safe, B.C. residents can use the Get Your Drugs Tested centre in Vancouver. The facility uses Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy and test strips to analyze any drug or substance for free, in person and by mail. Contact email@example.com to request their mailing address and receive instructions on mailing in your sample. (www.getyourdrugstested.com)
- The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association offers member companies its Workplace Wellness Program free of charge. The program was developed and is delivered with the support of leading experts on mental health with the construction sector in mind. Access it here: (www.icba.ca/wellness)