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Supporting Employee Mental Health

A mental health ribbon

In the last decade, Manson has championed safety programs to keep employees safe across the nation. Driven to take care of people, the organization is also taking steps to promote and support mental health.

Mental health concerns are prevalent in the construction industry, with seasonal jobs, long hours, and exhaustion contributing to depression, anxiety, and even suicide. In a 2020 survey by the Center for Construction Research and Training, 14.3% of construction workers reported having anxiety or depression at their jobs. These health factors often go unnoticed and can unfortunately lead to severe crises. For this reason, Manson is adapting its focus to include mental health awareness, tackling a necessary topic in the construction industry.

“The wellbeing of our people is important because it aligns with our core value of taking care of people,” says Jim McNally, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “Raising mental health awareness is a deep interest for Manson because it introduces a serious topic and allows people to discuss it comfortably.”

Mental Health and Safety Intersect

Manson’s top priority is sending people home safe and unharmed, and this is true for both physical and mental safety, according to Matua Sablan, Manson West Regional Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) Manager. Matua says Manson understands the importance of advocating for mental health and, from a safety perspective, sees the correlation between ‘checking in’ with someone and ensuring they have the proper PPE for the task.

“If someone is on a job site operating heavy machinery and they become distracted because of poor mental health, they can be a danger to themselves and others,” Matua explains. “We focus on advocating for mental health just as much as we do safety. It is about the safety of Manson employees and why the importance of mental health and safety align.”

Earlier this year, Jim and Matua attended a safety conference focusing on suicide prevention—the first of its kind for the industry—to learn from mental health professionals and understand the hard facts. “Mental health awareness is still a newly discussed topic for the construction industry,” Jim says. “Suicide is a challenging issue for the individual, their friends and family, and their co-workers. I wanted to see what others in the industry were doing to support suicide prevention and the types of resources available.”

Manson offers helpful resources, including counseling services, hotlines, and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for its employees. Many of these benefits facilitate the connection to life-saving tools and mental health experts.

With resources like TALKSPACE, employees can virtually access and speak with a licensed counselor about personal and professional concerns from the comfort of their own homes. This program can serve as the first step in providing a safe space for individuals suffering through severe crises, such as substance abuse or suicidal ideation.

All in This Together

Manson has supported this holistic approach in many ways, including hosting events across the country for Mental Health Awareness Month in May, such as Stress Reduction workshops.

Some employee advocates have even taken it upon themselves to learn more about this important health issue. In September 2023, Northwest Operations Office Manager Melanie Erdman received a certification in Mental Health First Aid to identify common signs of mental and substance abuse challenges and to learn how to interact with individuals facing similar crises.

“Through education about the mental health crisis in construction, continued encouragement of healthy physical and emotional practices, and better work-life balance, we can help improve other people’s lives with this support,” Melanie says.

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