Last week, CSPP staff attended the 3rd Annual Construction Working Minds Summit in Kansas City. It was a sunny 80 degrees when we landed, ideal weather for checking out the sites. The next day, the temperature plummeted to 19 degrees. The wild weather did not dampen this year’s summit, which had over 450 attendees from around the globe, including past Boom Goes the Stigma Guest Dr. Andy Walmsley, who traveled from New Zealand to present and attend this year’s summit. 

It was great seeing CSPP partners, including Marcus Mattox and another past guest BGTS guest, Christi Pilutik, whom we have only seen on Zoom, having a sponsor table at the year’s event. We also connected and shared great meals with John Chriswell, Tammy Lupenski, and Heidi Walker from Hoffman Construction. 

Sunrise in KC
Emily Haro and Max Margolis at KC’s Union Station

Here are some takeaways that we got from the summit.

Day 1: Pre-Conference Workshop

The Brain, Addiction, and Implications for the Construction Industry: One key takeaway from the workshop is that our brain’s neuroplasticity and adaptability enable us to heal and recover from both short and long-term substance abuse. De-stigmatizing language is crucial for addressing and mitigating the impact that substance abuse has on the construction industry.

Harm Reduction in the Construction Industry: We discussed the challenges of incorporating harm-reduction policies into construction. There was lively discussion around marijuana use, onsite screening, and the importance of having NARCAN on site.

Day 2: Speakers Share Perspectives on Mental Wellness

Dr. Andy Walmsley and Max
Marcus Mattox, in the black shirt, and Christi Pilutik, on the far right, in the Panel Presentation on turning talk to action.

David Moody, President of C.D Moody Construction in Atlanta, Georgia, opened the summit with a compelling speech about overcoming trauma and finding hope through therapy, outdoor adventures, and self-compassion,

John Dahunsi, OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, presented data emphasizing the importance psychological safety plays on the job site. 

Melissa Doman, Organizational Psychologist, Former Clinical Mental Health Therapist, & Author, led a panel discussion about transforming wellness language into practices that resonate with construction workers and reflect the reality on the ground.  

Dr. Andy Walmsley Presentation: Dr. Andy shared how to implement effective suicide prevention messages, practice on-site interventions, and establish mental health resources. It is essential to help construction leaders, who may find themselves unprepared for their leadership roles, support and connect with workers who are struggling with mental distress.

An overarching theme for the first day was the importance of addressing compassion fatigue. Suicide Prevention work can be mentally and emotionally draining, which is why we must practice self-care and use the mental health services we promote. 

Gala Speaker

Emily, Kari Evans, Recovery Ways, and Heidi Walker, Hoffman Construction, at the Gala
Justin Azbill Speaking at Gala

Justin Azbill, Director-National Environmental Health and Safety for Milwaukee Tool shared a moving personal account on hope and resiliency. The Gala included several awards for companies and nonprofits advancing construction suicide prevention work.

Day Three Highlights: Speakers Address Substance Use and Mental Health

Dana Piscopo, Color Your Life CEO and Director of Sales Operation at Oracle Global Industries shared her presentation on “Moxie” and how her first firsthand experience achieving sobriety and her journey to reclaim her life and her “moxie”. 

CSPP ReThink the Drink- Max presented Rethink the Drink as a breakout session. The audience was engaged and participated in the interactive quiz we embedded into the presentation. We had several people come up to us after to thank us for the presentation and request more resources.

Rethink The Drink Presentation
Post-Presentation, Max and Emily with Robert Chapman,
Wellness Manager
Health Source Solutions at Meta

Sober Sidekick– Their CEO discussed a new app called sober sidekick. This app connects people in recovery with other people in recovery. Sober Sidekick uses compassion and networking to help people find a sense of community. The app is easy to use and free for users. Companies can also unitize the app to encourage workers to maintain healthy habits and lifestyles. CSPP will be checking it out to see if it could work for our partners.

Conference Closing: 

As part of the conference closing, Dr. Sally-Spencer Thomas presented Cal Beyer, a national thought leader in Construction Suicide Prevention, with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Conference ended with two great presentations. 

Max with Dr. Sally-Spencer Thomas, Founder of Construction Working Minds
Cal Beyer receiving Lifetime Achievement Award

Brandon Anderson, Vice President of Safety for Missouri AGC, delivered a powerful and personal story about how he learned the power of gratitude. 

Marshall Jones, Founder of MindBodySpeak, ended the conference with a free-style poem that encapsulated the three days with profound spoken words and metaphors.

We are grateful we were able to attend this conference, connect with people from all over the country, and learn about new resources and strategies for improving the lives of people working in construction!

KC Sunset Over the Tracks!