Construction Industry Leaders Gather in Denver to Address Mental Health Challenges

Professionals strive to be more mindful of preventing suicide
Photo: Renaud Vejus | Dreamstime.com

Roughly 1,000 construction workers die each year on the job. This is why jobsite safety is such a priority in construction.

What many industry leaders may not know, is that over 5,000 construction workers died by suicide each year as well. In light of this, many construction organizations are moving beyond basic mental health awareness programs and designing comprehensive strategies for suicide prevention and mental health promotion.

The United Suicide Survivors International and the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) held the first-ever “Construction Working Minds Summit” on May 17 and 18 in Denver.

“We are thrilled to bring the early adopters of the mental health movement in construction together to learn from each other and build a robust and coordinated vision for the future,” said Sally Spencer-Thomas, President of United Survivors and Co-Chair for the event.

Keynote speakers included:

  • Cal Beyer, Co-chair for the event and early advocate for construction mental health awareness, who spoke about lessons learned from “Catalyzing and Unleashing a Movement.”
  • Jorgen Gullestrup, founder of MATES in Construction, talked about his journey from plumber to suicidologist.
  • Brent Darnell shared actionable steps on how to approach safety and mental health using human connection and emotional intelligence.

“Safety includes total human health—emotional, social, mental, intellectual, financial, occupational and spiritual wellness–and we must continue to raise the bar in mental health for the construction workforce of more than 7.5 million,” emphasized Greg Sizemore, Vice President Workforce Development Safety Health and Environmental for Associated Builders and Contractors and Chairman of CIASP.

RELATED: Confronting a Lethal Stigma—Addressing Mental Health in the Construction Industry

“Our people are our greatest asset, and the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention is proud to collaborate with the United Suicide Survivors International to address suicide in the construction industry. Together we can raise awareness about suicide prevention by normalizing conversations around mental health; equipping and empowering our industry to understand total human health; and prioritizing mental health as an essential component of any safety culture.”

Hensel Phelps was one of the companies recognized for their efforts to be more mindful of mental health issues in construction. Jerry Shupe, Corporate Director of Safety and Health for Hensel Phelps, accepted the Mental Health Visionary: Company Award.

“We’re excited to see the momentum of this movement ripple through the construction industry,” said Cal Beyer, Vice President, Workforce Risk and Worker Wellbeing with Holmes Murphy and Co-chair of the Summit.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish

800-273-8255

There is also a newly designated 3-digit number, 988, to access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Together, we can make a difference.

Valarie Johnson

Valarie is Editor-at-Large of Colorado Builder and has a 25-year, award-winning career as a publisher, editor and writer for local, regional, national and international publications. Valarie is a Colorado native and enjoys hiking, traveling, meditating, kayaking, yoga, reading and spending time with her husband and family. She can be reached at [email protected] or (303) 502-2523.

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