How Men Can Love Themselves

February is a month where we tend to focus on our love life. Or the loves of our life.

What if we take a moment to focus on loving ourselves? What can we do to make life better for ourselves?

A couple weeks ago, it was Bell Let’s Talk Day. This is important for many people, but none more so than for men, especially those in construction.

Studies have shown that men in construction are at the highest risk of depression, anxiety, addiction, opioid overdose and suicide. My thoughts on this are that men first don’t like to talk about their feelings, as much as we like to joke about it. They have a hard time understanding that vulnerability is not a weakness (just ask Brene Brown).

“Some in the construction industry have noted that construction workers potentially have a perfect storm of suicide risk factors,” he notes. “These include a male-dominated workforce, with a large percentage of veterans, and a significant number of workers with untreated psychiatric and substance use conditions.” (From Daily Commercial News article, September 7, 2022)

The other part of the issue is that I think many men don’t feel like they have a safe place to talk about their feelings. They feel like they may be judged or mocked for their feelings, or just expressing their feelings.

Men are not like women who are more confident talking to friends about how they feel about their marriage, their kids, their work, etc. Men don’t do that.

In July of 2022, Public Health Ontario released a report that stated there is a huge disproportion in the number of opioid overdoses by those in the construction industry. Those who die as a result are more than likely employed, and are likely addicted to cocaine and alcohol. See the effects of opioid use and the impact on parts of Canada in this Canadian Contractor article from September.

When I talk to men in construction, I remind them about the many resources that available to them. Check out the IHSA website. They now have mental health professionals on staff and have a number of resources listed on their site.

Obviously, there is lots of help through the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). As well, if you have benefits through your employer, check to see if you have an EAP available. The Employee Assistance Program often has free mental health resources accessible for workers. I also encourage them to give the number for the EAP to their children in high school or post-secondary so they have free resources available that is completely confidential.

As women, we can do what we can to create a safe space for the men in our lives to fell comfortable enough to talk to us. Create a judgement-free zone to have uncomfortable conversations. Lastly, if you feel they might be struggling with addictions, get some help for you and for them.

As an employer, what are you doing to bring attention to this important issue with your workers? As a construction worker, what are you doing to help those you work beside every day?


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