Construction workers struggle with pain, stress from injuries

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Construction workers are frequently stressed about work-related injuries and pain and often fail to seek help, putting themselves at risk for more injuries and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and even suicide, according to a new study by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

The study was published online October 1, 2013 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

“This pilot study [a small study intended to generate hypotheses for further investigation] shows the high prevalence of substantial mental distress in the U.S. construction worker population, and how this distress is strongly related to pain and injuries,” said senior author Silje Endresen Reme, a clinical psychologist and visiting scientist in HSPH’s Department of Environmental Health and a scientist at Uni Research in Norway. “There is a need for increased treatment choices, education, and acceptance of mental disorders in these high-risk workers.”

The research evolved from the EPIMC Study (Epidemiologic Pilot Investigating Mental Health among Construction Workers), a project of HSPH’s Center for Work, Health and Well-being and headed by Reme. The new study is the first comprehensive investigation of mental distress among construction workers, according to the authors.