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March 3-7, 2026

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Why Does Mental Health Matter in Construction?



If you are in a mental health crisis, call or text 988 to speak to a crisis counselor now. You can also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line and speak to a live, trained crisis counselor. Learn more about the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline 988.

The construction industry is prone to all kinds of illness and injury. Working with heavy equipment in extreme weather and sometimes on high platforms creates the perfect storm for accidents. One kind of danger often overlooked is mental health challenges.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the construction industry has the highest suicide rates by occupation. Coupled with the fact that there is one death by suicide every 11 minutes, there is clearly a mental health crisis in the U.S. – and even more so in construction.

There are lots of conversations in May and September around mental health and suicide prevention. Those conversations need to continue throughout the year, making sure we are consistent, compassionate and supporting our teams wherever they are.

Sonya Bohmann

Executive Director, Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention


Why is there such a big risk of mental health issues in the construction industry? Well, there isn’t just one answer. Industry-based and personal factors combine to make this industry more susceptible to mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and more.

Job sites come with a lot of stress. Construction is a competitive industry that requires keeping productivity high and costs low. It can feel like someone is always watching and no one works well under that kind of pressure.

In addition, “there are a lot of veterans in the construction industry,” says Jessica Bunting, MPH, director, research to practice (r2p) at CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. “So, there’s a high rate of PTSD and mental health issues related to being a veteran, which some of our workers are unfortunately carrying with them into their civilian construction careers.”

There’s another issue that comes into play with physical injury – substance misuse. Drinking alcohol is a common (and temporary) stress relief tactic across any industry, but construction workers also experience high rates of opioid addiction. Often workers become injured, are prescribed opioids by their doctor, continue using the prescribed opioids so they can work through the pain, and ultimately become addicted.

“This has been a request of our members, talking about alcohol and then going into mental health,” says Max Margolis, program director, Construction Suicide Prevention Partnership. “Conversation is a good gateway. We cannot fully, solely focus on suicide – talking about total health is just really important.”


Starting the conversation can be the hardest part. Regardless of industry, people are not culturally encouraged to talk about their emotions. This is especially true for men and industries like construction that require hard physical labor.

Sonya Bohmann, executive director, Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, says to start slowly, but consistently – consistency is key when it comes to mental health conversations.

“There are lots of conversations in May when it's mental health month, and there's lots of conversations in September when it's suicide prevention month,” Sonya says. “But the other 10 months of the year need to be part of the conversation as well, making sure that it is consistent and compassionate and knowledgeable and that we're supporting our teams wherever they are.”


The more we learn about mental health, the more we recognize how it is connected to our physical health. Since every job site is equipped with first aid kits and workers trained in safety procedures, it only makes sense that mental wellness should have a first aid kit, too.

  • Know how to look for – and talk about – warning signs. “There are lots of trainings out there. Some of them are free. Some of them cost, some of them take time,” says Sonya. “But what does it look like when you notice that someone you care about has exhibited some of these warning signs. How do you go from ‘I see it,’ to ‘I need to do something about it’?”
  • Provide a safe space. “[One of our partners] put a GUTS room on site,” says Max. “It’s a trailer. It has tables, it has video games, it has television, it has soft drinks. And it's open to all the craft workers, and it's a space where they can relate with each other… But it's kind of organic. They can access virtual therapy if they want in a private room; creating that space represents a huge step forward for the industry.”
  • Have naloxone on site (also known by brand name Narcan). “If an overdose does occur, whether it's an employee overdose or a bystander overdose, you can intervene,” says Jessica. “There are a lot of quick, easy trainings out there that you can get from local health departments, fire departments, unions, etc., on how to administer naloxone, and how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose.
    Note: Jessica also shared that administering naloxone will not harm someone who is not overdosing. So, if you see a person in a medical event that resembles an overdose and administer naloxone, there shouldn’t be any adverse reactions even if it isn’t an opioid-related event.

Content Note: The CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 newsletter will feature content about mental health over the course of the next few months. While these topics can be challenging, we want to remind you about one underlying feature: hope.

We will tackle topics related to suicide, PTSD and other mental health conditions that are prevalent in the construction industry. There are resources to help – whether you need help yourself or want to help a friend. Where there is help, there is hope.

One way to attack the mental health stigma is by telling your story. Please contact us if you would like to share your journey with fellow CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 readers.

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