Construction Forum creates website, videos to help St. Louis building industry navigate challenges of COVID-19 pandemic

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Visit TellMeHowSTL.com for health and wellbeing resources

SCREENCAPS from a video on resilience from TellMeHowSTL.com, a resource for information on health and wellbeing in the construction industry.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the construction industry had some unique challenges with the health and wellbeing of its workforce – particularly with opioids.

As an “essential industry,” it has been able to move forward on active projects, but there have been obvious additional stressors and health concerns added by the pandemic.

While the construction industry has been deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, the daily stress of navigating it has created some unique challenges.

To help the industry navigate these challenges, Construction Forum (constructforstl.org) has developed a website – www.TellMeHowSTL.com – to support industry efforts to better manage stress on the job and other issues that can compromise the overall health and wellbeing of the construction workforce.

The project has been endorsed by representatives of National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, SAK Construction Inc., Southern Illinois Builders Association, St. Louis Building and Construction Trades Council, Laborers Local 110, T.J. Wies Contracting and Washington University School of Medicine, and is supported by many of the region’s largest general contractors and leading construction industry organizations.

‘HOW ARE YOU DOING?’
TellMeHowSTL.com reflects an incisive approach to learning how workers are managing stress, health and/or financial issues, starting from the simple request, “Tell me how you are doing.”

Funded with a $10,000 grant from the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, a community coalition fund at the St. Louis Community Foundation, the TellMeHowSTL.com website and videos address issues including:
• Family support
• Financial resources
• Isolation and loneliness
• Resilience
• Staying safe
• Stress/suicide
• Substance misuse
• Supporting your own mental health

“In the COVID-19 crisis, construction is considered ‘essential,’ which adds a level of stress for construction workers,” Construction Forum noted in its grant application.

Construction field and office workers face a number of stressors even in normal times, the application notes.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and insurance data, recent statistics have shown construction has one of the highest overdose fatality rates and a growing rate of suicides.

Project schedules can be relentless, some workers work sporadically and craftworkers’ jobs can be physically punishing – a factor that is exacerbated by the rising average age of craftspeople.

SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS

TellMeHowSTL.com offers resources developed with a subject matter team, whose members include:

  • Dr. Ann Dale, assistant professor of medicine and occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Dale and her team are experts on construction-related health and interventions.
  • Team Lead Tom Finan, executive director of the Construction Forum, who is a communications and social media expert with over four decades in the construction industry.
  • Dr. John Gaal, who led union workforce and training efforts in Missouri and Illinois for over 30 years. Today he is recognized as an expert on issues related to workplace behavioral health.
  • Justin Schmeltz, a civil engineer and chair of the Construction Forum’s Emerging Leaders – a 150-member group that is a cross-section of young people in construction.
  • Diana Wilhold, deputy executive director of the Construction Forum, who is an educator and a talent pipeline development and public health prevention professional connected with educational institutions and community-based organizations.
  • Don Willey, Laborers Local 110 business manager, who is an advocate and authority in the areas of construction-related behavioral health and substance abuse.

The videos were produced by Solstice Productions with Solstice CEO Amanda Aschinger serving as executive producer.

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