In 2022, ABC received funding from the Trimmer Construction Education Fund to support efforts to address mental health and suicide in the construction industry. ABC then committed to participating in the University of Colorado’s Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center program—VitalCog: Suicide Prevention in the Construction Industry’s Train the Trainer program.

Since then, ABC has sent 67 ABC chapter staff and members through the program to become an instructor. Over that time, ABC instructors have provided 95 trainings and 1,617 ABC members and chapter staff have received this vital education.

Participants who went through the VitalCog Train the Trainer are identified as “mental health champions.”  Monthly mental health champion calls are held to offer a safe space to the instructors to share best practices, ask tough questions and help instructors feel empowered and prepared during difficult situations. Each champion receives a purple Mental Health Champion safety vest from ABC to raise awareness on jobsites and in the industry. ABC has a goal of having a mental health champion at every chapter to continue to raise awareness and address this critical issue.

“Without leadership buy-in, employees won’t feel like they’re in a safe space, period. Leaders who lead by example and advocate for mental health can greatly influence the overall atmosphere. Adopting an open and available approach to mental health discussions, along with a top-down mentality, can foster a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable addressing mental health concerns,” said Sherrie Dickerson, education manager at ABC Virginia and an ABC mental health champion.

For more information, contact Haley Moyers at moyers@abc.org or visit abc.org/thh for resources on total human health.