TORONTO — Those working in construction may be at higher risk for mental illness and suicide, but there are ample tools and resources available to help.
Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. The Daily Commercial News has put together a list of tools and resources for construction organizations and unions, as well as places to go to help individuals who are feeling suicidal.
Talk Suicide Canada (Get Help | Talk Suicide Canada) is a joint initiative with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Crisis Services Canada and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Those who are feeling suicidal or who have someone in their life they suspect is suicidal can call 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada also has resources on suicide prevention in the workplace titled Suicide Prevention – Mental Health Commission of Canada.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention site Envisioning a Canada without suicide – Canadian Association For Suicide Prevention provides information and resources to communities to reduce the suicide rate and minimize the harmful consequences of suicide-related thoughts and behaviours. The website includes a support services directory, resource centre, articles and research and statistics.
Suicide is related to mental health. Some construction organizations and trade unions use The Working Mind program which is offered through the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The program seeks to change Canadians’ behaviours and attitudes toward people living with mental illness.
If there is an issue with substance abuse, The De Novo Treatment Centre in Huntsville, Ont. is an alcohol and drug treatment service operated as a partnership between management and unionized members of Ontario’s construction trades.
The Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) also has resources available for discussing mental health in the workplace, including tips for toolbox talks on mental health, at facilitators-guide-to-delivering-mental-health.pdf (ihsa.ca). The IHSA also works with stakeholders through the sector’s Section 21 committees and last year hired a mental health and wellness specialist to lead its efforts to identify industry needs and address gaps.
Those who are struggling with mental health and thoughts of suicide are also encouraged to use their Employee Assistance Program if their organization or union has one or other suicide awareness and prevention programs in place.
Last year, the Ontario General Contractors Association adopted a new affinity program that provides members with access to the mental health services of care consultant Medcor.
LIUNAcare’s mHealth program in Ontario, offered by the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), provides members and their eligible dependents access to an online mental health assessment tool, virtual mental health therapy, an information and resource library as well as an overview of their benefits coverage in addition to traditional in-person therapy.
The Christian Labour Association of Canada participates in a Mental Health First Aid program, in which team members obtain credentials through a two-day certification program developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The participants are then equipped to identify mental health problems and advise on treatment.
For workers in B.C., the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) has a wellness program (Wellness Program for Contruction Workers in BC – ICBA), which is designed specifically to help those in the construction industry looking for help with mental health challenges. The association says the risk of suicide for those working in construction is seven times higher than the national average.
In the U.S., the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP – Home Page (preventconstructionsuicide.com) was created in response to a Centers for Disease Prevention finding that construction occupations have the highest rate of suicide as well as the highest number of suicides across all occupational groups, states its website.
The United States Department of Labor also has a Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. For confidential support available 24/7 for everyone in the United States, call 988 or online chat at 988lifeline.org/chat. The service is also available in Spanish. For more information visit Preventing Suicides in Construction | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha.gov)