FTIUM Embraces Mental Health First Aid Courses

TW: suicide, substance abuse

At Finishing Trades Institute of the Upper Midwest (FTIUM), students are offered access to various programs like Drywall Finishing, Commercial Painting, and Glazing to fit the unique career needs of each student. But it’s not only about trades training.

As part of our Helping Hands initiative, the FTIUM takes actionable steps to provide mental health illness and substance use disorder awareness and education while promoting access to Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits offered by TEAM through District Council 82.

Construction workers have the second-highest suicide and substance use disorder rate in any industry. In fact, data shows that construction workers are three times more likely to take their own life than the rest of the population. Understanding this gravity,  we worked with the IUPAT, Finishing First, and mental health professionals from Recovery Resources to deliver Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) to all employees of the FTIUM. This vital training best prepares first aiders to respond to students experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.

Staff are trained on recognizing mental health warning signs and the most effective ways to step in to help proactively. The staff at FTIUM acknowledges that to have a truly holistic training model, we need to address students’ needs beyond proper safety training and certifications.

FTIUM strives to create a positive and supportive school environment. Students are encouraged to talk openly about their struggles to ensure that mental health is no longer a taboo topic in their future workplaces. By promoting an open, empathetic culture at school, those behaviors will transfer to their workplaces and foster a stigma-free environment for generations of future coworkers.

As COVID-19 continues to weigh heavily on our community and many people are out of work or isolated at home, mental health awareness and training are more important than ever. FTIUM’s Change the Culture of Construction Program raises awareness for issues like substance abuse, suicide, and more within the finishing trades industry.

FTIUM will continue to provide resources like these courses to ensure all of our students feel supported at our facilities and into their careers. We will keep talking about it, educating one another on it, and de-stigmatizing it. There is nothing more important than our health – mental and physical. The training center may be a space to work, but they are also a safe space to ask for help if you need it.