“Our workface is experiencing some of the highest rates of mental health issues, including substance misuse disorders and suicide, of any industry,” said Peter Tateishi, AGC of California Chief Executive Officer. “AGC of California and our members can play a vital role in initiating the conversation about the importance of mental health at work, and we offer resources for employers and workers about how to incorporate wellness of the whole worker into our daily safety routines.”
The stand down took place at the San Benito Route 156 Improvement Project in San Juan Bautista, California, in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month. Teichert halted construction for one hour as speakers explained how to recognize the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and mental health disorders and what resources are available for help.
“Our safety program was established by Henry Teichert in 1959, 11 years before OSHA was founded, and we are committed to our tradition of building trust with our customers, our employees, and the broader community that is a stakeholder in everything we do,” said Mary Teichert, President of Teichert, a Sacramento-based construction company founded in 1887. “We are continuing to expand and deepen the array of training and support we have for mental health in our ranks and are honored to be part of our industry’s efforts to develop and communicate a richer body of knowledge in this area than was historically available.”
Patrick Nelson, a U.S. Army veteran and Chief Executive Officer of Loyalty Point Leadership — which develops leadership programs for clients from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses — spoke about his personal experience.
“I’ve found that the mental health challenges that are impacting the construction industry are not all that different from the challenges that I’ve faced as [a] veteran,” Nelson said. “It’s an honor for me to be able to share the adversity that I’ve faced and my own personal journey to help inspire others and influence the future. It’s great to see the increased awareness around mental health in the construction industry, and AGC of California is doing a great job addressing this problem head on.”
AGC of California’s complete toolkit and tutorial, available online, is for construction employers to educate employees about the importance of mental health. The free toolkit includes talking points to encourage any employee to reach out for help if they are suffering from issues related to substance abuse, suicidal ideation, depression, and other mental health concerns. It is also designed to help employers identify and convey support resources (such as the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline) and company-specific plans (such as employee assistance programs).
“Mental health is something that can affect everyone, and it is important to keep a happy, healthy mind and body,” said Neils Ash, Operating Engineers Local Union 3 District Representative for Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties, who noted the organization has a free, confidential assistance and recovery program for members and their families. Operating Engineers Local 3 represents 40,000 members in California, Nevada, Utah, and Hawaii.
AGC of California held the stand down to inspire construction companies to initiate their own Mental Health Awareness Stand Downs. AGC of California’s toolkit includes suggestions on how companies can host their own stand downs to support employees suffering from distress.