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Workplace Safety

Q&A with Jamie McMillan

Kick Ass Careers founder, Jamie McMillan, shares with us the importance of mental health in th Skilled Trades industry, and shares resoures on the matter to help everyone in the field.

Physical health and mental health are equally important to an individual’s health and wellbeing. In your opinion, how can workplaces better incorporate mental health supports and services into their workplace safety strategy?

As a contract construction worker, I’ve encountered numerous challenges regarding mental health and wellbeing within the industry. It’s important to emphasize that these issues aren’t exclusive to construction; they’re universal human concerns. The fast-paced nature of construction work, combined with its high demands, can exacerbate mental, emotional, and physical struggles among workers. While the industry has a reputation for toughness, advancements in health sciences and our understanding of mental health have paved the way for improved programs aimed at educating employers and employees alike. Through life skills and sensitivity training initiatives, we’re creating safer working environments and nurturing healthier workplace cultures. However, despite ongoing progress, accountability remains a pressing issue. Employers must prioritize identifying and addressing toxic behavior rather than shielding perpetrators. By focusing efforts on fostering positive workplace dynamics and weeding out harmful individuals, we can truly enhance both physical safety and mental wellbeing in the construction industry.

Working in the skilled trades of course takes a physical toll, whereas mental health struggles can sometimes be invisible. Have you experienced any mental repercussions working in the skilled trades and what type of supports have you utilized to overcome them?

Navigating the construction industry as part of an underrepresented group has presented its fair share of hurdles for me. Yet, it’s become evident that regardless of our backgrounds, we all confront similar obstacles. As someone grappling with high spectrum ADHD, I’ve come to realize the value of understanding my diagnosis sooner. Many individuals with ADHD, myself included, contend with rejection sensitivity dysphoria, often suffering in silence or reacting with frustration. Personally, I’ve struggled with taking things too personally and neglecting healthy boundaries. However, construction has taught me the necessity of standing firm and maintaining composure amidst challenges. While delving into understanding my diagnosis has been a daunting journey, it’s underscored the importance of being open about my challenges rather than suppressing them. Through this process, I’ve cultivated self-awareness, honed healthy boundaries, and learned not to internalize every setback.

Have you seen a change in the way people in the skilled trades approach the topic of mental health in the workplace? 

There’s definitely been a noticeable shift towards acknowledging and supporting mental health in workplaces lately. Working within a union has provided me with invaluable benefits, particularly in terms of therapy coverage for those facing personal challenges. In today’s world, where escapism seems almost commonplace, people are contending with an array of unique hurdles—from soaring living costs to inflation—that impact their ability to provide. It’s heartening to see a growing awareness and advocacy for change across all work environments. As we collectively push for safer, more nurturing workplace cultures, humanity is gradually recognizing the immense value of fostering happy, healthy work environments. It’s inspiring to witness individuals stepping up to play their part in driving this crucial change forward.

Do you have any advice from someone who doesn’t feel like their workplace is a safe place? Do you have any resources recommendation that have helped you?

Navigating the construction industry as an underrepresented group has brought its challenges, highlighting the universal need for prioritizing mental health in all workplaces. The demanding nature of construction work exacerbates mental, emotional, and physical struggles, but advancements in health sciences offer hope for improved support systems. Through initiatives like life skills and sensitivity training, we’re fostering safer working environments and nurturing healthier workplace cultures. However, accountability remains crucial, urging employers to address toxic behavior. Embracing self-awareness and cultivating healthy boundaries has been key in my journey, underscoring the importance of openness about challenges rather than suppression. In today’s world, where pressures abound, it’s heartening to see a growing awareness of mental health’s importance across all industries. It’s essential to prioritize support systems, therapy, and self-care to navigate these challenges. Together, we can foster resilient workplace cultures where mental health is valued, empowering individuals to thrive both personally and professionally.

What has been some of the most rewarding feedback you’ve gotten from your Building Resilience series? Is there anything else you’d like readers to take away?

It’s quite the journey with Building Resilience, isn’t it? Dee and I are genuinely thrilled about the channel, but let’s face it, balancing busy schedules while navigating high spectrum ADHD can be quite the challenge. Admittedly, our regular posting hasn’t been as consistent as we’d hoped, but the positive feedback we’ve received has been truly heartwarming. Sharing our own challenges and the strategies we’ve learned through therapy and our ADHD support group (ADHD Women of Hamilton Support Group) has been incredibly rewarding. It’s amazing to hear from others facing similar struggles, knowing that our vulnerability resonates and inspires them to embrace their own journey. We’re here to offer support and understanding, reminding everyone that they’re not alone in their struggles.

For more information on DHD Women of Hamilton support group contact [email protected]

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