Report: Concern for Mental Health Is High

But Willingness to Discuss Is Low

November 2021

As the pandemic continues to impact the economy and mental health of many workers, construction experiences the second highest rate of suicide among major industries. A new survey of the construction workforce from the American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Center for Workplace Mental Health, the Construction Financial Management Association, CSDZ and Holmes Murphy, calls attention to this issue and offers insights.
    
The online 20-question survey was launched in March 2021 and was answered by 1,175 respondents. It was distributed in all regions of the country by the four sponsoring organizations, along with state chapters of national construction trade associations, labor unions and joint labor-management benefit trusts. Of the primary job function reported by respondents, 29% were “CFOs, Controllers or Financial Professionals,” 22% were in “Safety/Risk Management,” and 16% were “CEOs, Presidents and Owners.”
    
Among the key findings:

  • Of those responding, 93% recognize addressing mental health at work as a sound business practice, and among presidents, CEOs and owners, 77% indicated it was prioritized at work.
  • When asked if workers were likely to seek needed mental health care, only 26% indicated they believed workers were likely to seek care, whereas nearly half did not know (43%) and nearly a third said workers were unlikely to (31%).
  • Overall, respondents said their organizations make supervisor training (25%) or employee training (25%) available; 69% identified supervisor training as most helpful and 66% identified training for employees as most helpful.
  • When asked whether workers would openly discuss mental health with supervisors, only 17% responded they would, 37% indicated they would not, and almost half of respondents (46%) were either undecided or did not know. APA polling of the general public from earlier this year shows a dramatic contrast: nearly 56% in that poll indicated they’d be comfortable discussing mental health with their supervisors.
  • Similarly, when asked whether workers would openly discuss mental health with co-workers, only 18% agreed, 31% disagreed, and more than half (51%) were either undecided or did not know. This also indicates a contrast with the APA public polling where 56% of respondents indicated they’d be comfortable talking about mental health with colleagues.
  • The top four reasons for that reticence, according to those polled were shame and stigma (78%), fear of judgment by peers (77%), fear of negative consequences (55%), and 46% said they don’t know how to access care.

    
For organizations and businesses seeking help in supporting the mental health of their workforce, APA Foundation’s Center for Workplace Mental Health provides tools, resources and information, and has recently issued toolkits and webinars on COVID-19, remote work and more. Resources are also available from the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention.