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Mental Health Awareness Month

We know you’re used to project features but when it comes to the well-being of our employee-owners, that takes priority. This month, we’re making room for a topic that deserves the spotlight. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we’re encouraging everyone to be a part of the conversation. Although you may not personally struggle with it, your buddy working alongside you everyday just might be. It’s important to be aware of what’s trending in our very own industry so you can help identify the warning signs and end the stigma.

“The last 15 months in a global pandemic has innately caused anxiety and fear to become a part of everyday life, at home and at work. Taking care of yourself, your family and your co-workers becomes especially important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This balance can involve your mental, physical and spiritual well-being. From leadership at Emery Sapp, we ask each of you to take assessment of your mental health, with honesty and strength, because we’re in this together. While the ESOP makes us business partners, at the end of the day we are more than that. ESS employee-owners are family.” – From Tim Paulson, Co-Chief Executive Officer at Emery Sapp & Sons.

What Is Mental Health?

More than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives. It remains prevalent in society today. Mental health isn’t easily summed up in one definition. It’s an ongoing conversation that is equal parts complex and unique. The good thing is, ESS is built for complexity. In the nature of the projects we do, mental health requires similar levels of time, patience and understanding. You don’t build a road in one day.

Mental health:

  • Involves your emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing
  • Affects how we think, feel, and act
  • Helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices
  • Changes over time and is impacted by MANY factors

What are some of the factors contributing to mental health issues?

  • Demanding workloads
  • Long working hours
  • Long commutes
  • Increased time away from friends or family
  • Job insecurity
  • Problems with work relationships
  • Constant changes within the working environment

At times, these factors can bear a distinct resemblance to the day-to-day challenges in the construction industry. A lot of the external forces feeding into mental health problems are systematically working against us, which can leave construction workers vulnerable. It’s a tough nut to crack but if anyone should know that barriers can be broken, it’s us.

Listen to ESS Safety Manager, Evaristo Gonzales share his own story about mental health.

What's the Stigma?

It’s not easy to talk about something that’s set up by society to make you feel small. The negative attitudes and beliefs out there surrounding mental health put us at a disadvantage. Add the “tough-guy” culture in there and it becomes even more challenging for people to speak up. Stigma prevents 40% of people with anxiety or depression from seeking help. It’s important to remember that mental illness is common, not shameful. This is not an issue caused by character flaws and it has nothing to do with being lazy or weak.

How you can help reduce the stigma:

  • Talk openly about mental health
  • Know the facts – educate yourself and others to be a part of the solution
  • Think before you speak – your words matter and can have lasting effects
  • Show compassion for those with mental illness
  • Share experiences – you’d be surprised who else you know with similar struggles
  • Don’t harbor self stigma – choose courage over shame

What Are the Facts?

Our friends in the industry have pooled together some seriously eye-opening facts about mental health. According to the Associated General Contractors of Missouri Chapter (AGC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Where does that play into construction? The construction industry currently stands as the 2nd highest rate of suicides among all occupations. The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention says that there are approximately three jobsite fatalities in construction every day and an estimated 10 to 12 suicides among construction workers.

What Can You Do?

While it may not be a popular lunch topic when hanging out with your crew, it could be. In fact, it needs to be. Check in on yourself and others regularly. There’s no way to know unless you ask.

Know the warning signs:

  • Talking about self-harm
  • Self-criticism, self-hatred
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • No hope for the future
  • Decreased productivity
  • Talking about being a burden
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Increased tardiness
  • Absenteeism

Tips for good mental health:

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat well
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking and drugs
  • Get outside and enjoy the sunlight
  • Activity and exercise
  • Do things for others

Resources from ESS

All employee-owners have access to the UnitedHealthcare Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Even if you’re not a part of our insurance plan, you can utilize these resources at no extra cost. The EAP provides you and your family personal and confidential support, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • You have unlimited phone access to master’s-educated specialists, 24/7.
  • You can utilize up to 3 visits PER ISSUE, per calendar year for face-to-face counseling sessions.
  • And don’t forget, EVERYTHING through the EAP is confidential. Similar to medical issues, there is no reporting and ESS has no way of knowing if you’ve used this resource.

Mental health is all encompassing. Issues that have nothing to do with your mental well-being at first, could still come back to create an emotional toll on you and your family. For instance, if you are struggling to pay the bills, this can inherently trigger stress and anxiety, potentially leading to other problems. Don’t suffer in silence. Within the EAP benefit, it’s important to note that you and your family also receive financial AND legal consultations. If you’re going through something, please use these FREE benefits available to you.

Call 1-877-660-3806, TTY 711, for personal and confidential assistance. Hay traductores disponibles para hispanohablantes.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Available 24 hours, English and Español

Published onPublicado en May 6, 2021
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