Each week, ICBA’s Jordan Bateman reflects on what we’ve learned as we participate in ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program. This program is free for all ICBA members – check out icba.ca/wellness for details.

I’m about halfway through this month’s learnings, but I find myself thinking about this slide a lot – how a trauma or brain injury (think concussion) can make a person more likely to experience mental illness.

This hits home in a couple of different ways.

First, my son is a young hockey player, and concussions are something his minor hockey association talks about a lot. There are Hockey Canada Safety People at all games and practices, keeping an eye out for concussions and other injuries. He is taught how to protect himself, and we’re taught what to watch for. We do baseline testing every year, just to have a fresh set of exams to compare with, in case something bad happens.

But the link to long-term mental health isn’t always spelled out – and probably should be. In the old-school hockey culture, a concussion for too long was just a nuisance, at worst a reason to have to miss a game or two. That’s been changing in recent years, but needs to go further. There are long-term physiological implications to a concussion.

Second, I think of the thousands of construction workers ICBA represents. I’m sure many of them have had a concussion in sports, everyday life, or on-site, even with the growing understanding and added protections. That puts them at risk. It’s important we learn and communicate the signs of concussions to try and help people deal with the ramifications. This is one of the risk factors for construction workers and (likely) one of the reasons why our mental health statistics are so concerning.

As hard as it is, if you have a concussion, please take the time to heal… both for today and down the road.

ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program is helping more than 50 companies, and thousands of construction professionals, better understand mental health. The program is free for ICBA members — see icba.ca/wellness.