Building a Stronger Foundation

Prioritizing Mental Health in the Construction Industry

Did you know one in five construction workers suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues?

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The nature of the work, coupled with the prevalent “alpha mindset,” often discourages open dialogue about emotions and struggles. As leaders in the construction industry, my colleagues and I understand the importance of mental health within our organization.

How it Started

Several members of the GBA Builders team attended the Advancing Data Center Construction conference at the Overland Park Convention Center in the fall of 2023. At this conference, we experienced a pivotal moment of reflection and action. Joseph Alvarez, Director of Mission Critical for GBA Builders, attended the conference and served as a moderator for a panel on mental health. While all panelists offered valuable insights, one speaker particularly resonated with us. The panelist emphasized the importance of checking in with field employees working on job sites away from home. This struck a chord, highlighting the need for increased mental health awareness and resources, especially for our field employees.

Construction Working Minds Forum

In February, GBA Builders attended the Construction Working Minds Forum conference in Kansas City. This forum was a unique opportunity to learn more about what other construction companies, locally and nationally, are doing to support employee mental health. We had different GBA team members attend, including our HR partners, safety specialists and field operation leadership, to gain insight from different viewpoints.

The conference’s overarching focus was on suicide prevention and substance abuse awareness, emblematic of a larger industry-wide movement. Engaging breakout sessions, thought-provoking data and some emotional keynote speakers highlighted the significance of the event.

Through the different sponsors and exhibitors, our team made connections and developed ideas to bring back to the office.

GBA Employees at Construction Working Minds Conference

Mental Health First Aid Training

During the conference, we realized our team lacked the training to effectively address issues related to helping employees with mental health concerns. As a result, we explored the idea of implementing mental health training similar to first aid training. We have engaged a national consultant who we met at the Construction Working Minds Forum and have her scheduled to provide training this May. This training will equip our team with the knowledge and skills to identify signs of mental health struggles among employees and trade partners. We will be more equipped to appropriately refer them to the relevant resources for professional assistance.

We plan to focus on support for our field employees, who are particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges. Our plan involves training a select group of office personnel, central field supervisors, superintendents, and members of one of our affiliates, I-Solutions. The primary objective is to establish a network of individuals capable of offering support and assistance to field personnel. By prioritizing this initiative, we aim to address the most pressing needs first and subsequently reassess our strategies for further action.

Improved Superintendent Support

Our field employees are away from home for extended periods on project sites in different states. They typically travel home once a month for a weekend, often flying out on Thursday nights and returning on Sundays, only having a brief period to spend with families and friends. Starting in May, we will have Project Managers cover the jobsite on Thursday and Friday every other month to give traveling Superintendents more time with loved ones. Many of our employees lack a support system in the cities where they work, relying solely on connections formed on the job. Unfortunately, discussions about mental health are often absent from these relationships, which may not provide the same level of support as familial or close friendships. Therefore, implementing measures to support our field employees’ mental well-being is of paramount importance to GBA Builders. To quote our mental health first aid trainer, “It takes more than a hard hat to keep a head safe.”

Hard Hat Stickers

We’re implementing tangible, quick solutions to support mental health awareness among our team. First, we’re distributing one thousand 988 Lifeline stickers for hard hats to all personnel on our job sites. 988 Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Our hope is that by prominently displaying the hotline number, it will foster dialogue and amplify mental health awareness on our jobsites. It also may provide a line of support for someone uncomfortable speaking to someone they know about their struggles. For GBA employees, we’ll provide a sticker with a QR code that will provide direct access to our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) resources.


Mental health awareness does not stop at GBA Builders. All GBA employees have access to an EAP, which provides them and their immediate family with the support and resources needed to maintain a healthy well-being.

GBA Builders recognizes the importance of providing individuals with access to valuable mental health resources. If you or someone you know is struggling, there are numerous organizations and hotlines available to offer support and assistance.

  • National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 988 – A free, confidential 24/7 hotline providing support, information and local resources for individuals in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA offers a wealth of resources, including treatment locators, publications, and support for individuals and families dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI provides education, support groups, advocacy and resources for individuals and families affected by mental illness.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “HELLO” to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor for free, confidential support via text message 24/7.

Ryan McLaughlin

Ryan has experience facilitating multi-million-dollar contracts in various construction markets. He is proficient in estimating, scheduling, budgeting and contract negotiations, and prides himself on being a creative problem solver. Ryan is a connector who understands the importance of developing and maintaining strong relationships through effective communication.

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