More needs to be done to help workers who are struggling

Clayton, MO – Mental health issues in the United States are at crisis levels and need greater understanding and increased emphasis from Labor and employers to find ways to help workers whose jobs are more stressful than ever, tragically creating a disastrous number of suicides and serious mental illnesses, stressed Dr. John Gaal, Worker Wellness director of the Missouri AFL-CIO’s Missouri Works Initiative at the Missouri AFL-CIO’s 31st Biennial Convention here Aug. 21-23.

“Just a month ago, we switched to a 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number. That’s not just for suicide prevention, that’s for all mental crises now. You’re often more often than not going to get a licensed professional on the other end of that line. You can text the words, HOPE or HELP to 741741 and they’ll pop right up on the other end.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (52.9 million in 2020).

Suicide second leading cause of death (after accidents) for people aged 10 to 34, making suicide is a serious public health problem.

In 2020 in the United States, over 45,000 people died by suicide. An estimated 1.4 million adults attempt suicide each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“That’s our future,” Gaal said, referring to efforts to bring more young workers into the building and construction trades. “We need to take better care of those individuals that are coming into our rank and file. Because these things aren’t going to go away by themselves.”

As many people struggle with stress and anxiety, suicide prevention skills are more needed than ever.

The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) and LivingWorks have stepped up to help, offering 60-90-minute LivingWorks Start suicide prevention training at no cost.

The 60-90-minute LivingWorks Start suicide prevention training is offered at no cost for organizations wanting to train their members and workforce.

Visit to learn more about LivingWorks vision and suicide prevention solutions.

Construction workers are seven times more likely to die of opioid-related overdoses than the average worker.

The construction industry has one of the highest injury rates in the U.S. Opioids have commonly been prescribed to construction workers to treat the pain caused by occupational injuries. “We have 26,000 people, workers in this country who are under medically assisted opioid recovery, who can’t go back to work because the rules they’ve got in place. Thirty out of 100 of those are experienced construction workers. Yet we’ve got contractors saying we can’t find the workers. Well, maybe we need to look at the rules.”


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