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Coffee Conversations - Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace - Sponsored by Tremco & WTI - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Coffee Conversations - Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace - Sponsored by Tremco & WTI
November 24, 2022 at 10:55 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Mandy McIntyre of Level Up Consultants, Christee Holbrook of Graham Roofing, and Tom Truelson of Forest Roofing. You can read the interview below, watch the webinar, or listen to the podcast here.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Good morning, everybody, and welcome to Coffee Conversations. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and this is from Roofer's Coffee Shop. We are so excited about this coffee conversation today. We have an amazing panel, and we are going to be talking about a topic that sometimes people just aren't talking about. We want to change that. We want to make sure that we are having honest and great conversations, and our panelists are going to tell you how to start down that trail.

But before we get started, I would like to do a very special thank you to Tremco and WTI. These companies, Tremco, the subsidiary of WTI, they are amazing. They really walk the talk. They are out there every day with diversity, empowering their employees, and having sometimes those difficult conversations. We are extremely honored to have them sponsoring this Coffee Conversations today. Thank you all.

Okay. We are going to be talking today about mental health and the importance of mental health. This is something that has been in the shadows, has not been talked about, especially in construction and roofing. It's scary. So we have an amazing panel who have been tackling this head on and who are ready to share what they've experienced and the ideas that they have for really bringing this to the forefront of your business and helping your employees. First of all, I would like to introduce Tom Truelson with Forests Historical and Specialty Roofing. Tom, welcome to the show.

Tom Truelson:

Thank you. Glad to be here.

Heidi Ellsworth:

I am so happy. First time on Coffee Conversations. We are so proud to have you. Could you introduce yourself, please, and tell us a little bit about?

Tom Truelson:

Yes. My name is Tom Truelson, the President and owner of Forest Historical and Specialty Roofing in Cleveland, Ohio. Previously, I was the president of a larger commercial roofing company in Cleveland, First Choice Roofing, where I ventured off earlier this year to start my own business. We specialize in copper, slate, tile, lead historic structures, a lot of churches, a lot of historical buildings. That's what we do as well. I have been in the roofing industry for 20-plus years if you count all my college and high school summers, but full time last 15. I'm hoping I can add something to this conversation and help somebody have that difficult conversation, which is something that I struggled with in my previous employment. Doing some of these lessons we've done, this has definitely helped me become a better leader and a better employer for my employees.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Wow, that's excellent. Okay, thank you. Thank you for being on here. Next, I'd like to introduce Christee Holbrook with Graham Roofing. Christee, welcome back to the show.

Christee Holbrook:

Thank you for having me again.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Thank you. Please introduce yourself and tell everybody about you.

Christee Holbrook:

I'm Christee Holbrook with Graham Roofing. I am the president and one of the owners since 2018. I've been with Graham Roofing since 1997, worked my way up in the company, and my partners and I bought it in '18. We're a commercial industrial roofer. My background is accounting, so it's been interesting. This topic, I've become passionate about it because of some things that have happened with employees in my company.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Awesome, thank you, Christee. This is going to be an amazing conversation. I would like to also introduce Mandy McIntyre with Level Up Consultants. Mandy is the inspiration for this and for this conversation and for really bringing this to the roofing industry. It's so critical. So Mandy, please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you're doing.

Mandy McIntyre:

Thank you so much, Heidi. Hi, I'm Mandy McIntyre, owner of Level Up Consultants. Before that, I was also with First Choice Roofing. I worked with Tom for about 10 years for First Choice in Cleveland, Ohio. I started this business because I saw a need for talking about mental health or talking about diversity, equity, inclusion, for elevating the industry as a whole regarding company culture and how do we tackle the labor shortage. I saw so many mental health issues within my team. We had somebody that died from an overdose, and I just thought, "Something more needs to be done." And so, I just took a huge leap of faith and started a business, and here I am.

And so, I'm an instructor for Mental Health First Aid. I do certified trainings, I do workshops, I do speeches. Christee and Tom have both taken my training for mental health first aid for the roofing industry. So thank you Tom and Christie for being part of the change. And Heidi, thank you for being such an advocate as well.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Oh, this is so important. I have to tell you, I think every family out there has dealt with mental health. Hopefully, they've dealt with it. But that tends to be the problem, that people are not talking about it, are not getting out there. There are some amazing statistics around this. So Mandy, start us out and share with everybody really what are some of the statistics and what is happening around mental health.

Mandy McIntyre:

Yeah, so every time I talk about these statistics, people are blown away because they've seen it in their own world, in their own little microcosm of the world, and then when you look at these macro numbers, it's like, "Whoa, this is really everywhere." More construction workers die from suicide and overdose every year than every other workplace fatality combined, which includes the OSHA fatal four. We talk about safety so much in the industry, but we're not talking about the mental safety. I always say, "It takes more than a hard hat to keep a head safe," and it's true. 83% of construction workers have experienced a mental health issue. Twice the rate of substance use is the national average in construction. 12% construction workers have an alcohol use disorder compared to 7.5 nationally. This one, every 12 minutes, a construction worker dies by suicide. Highest rate than any other industry.

There actually are some conflicting statistics depending on how... I've seen it reported as the second highest. I've seen it reported as the highest. But every 12 minutes, I mean, that's enough. It's awful. And then construction workers are seven times more likely to die from an opioid overdose and have the highest proportion of heroin-related overdose deaths than any other industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Oh my gosh.

Mandy McIntyre:

Clearly we're failing somewhere. Once I started doing this research, that's where I was like, "We need to focus on this." Because you can't expect someone to go up on the roof in a dangerous situation... You can give them all the safety PPE that is required, but if their head isn't in the game, they're more likely to hurt themselves on the job, so it really is a safety initiative.

Heidi Ellsworth:

You know what, Mandy? That is so true. I think anybody can relate to that. If you are depressed, if your mind's not right, if you're worried about what's going on at home, you're worried about a loved one, your mind is not in the job. When you're doing something as dangerous as roofing, you need to be 100% there. Tom and Christee, what do you see? I mean, when you see these kind of stats, Christee, let's start with you, but these kind of statistics, you're obviously seeing it in your company and also in the industry overall too.

Christee Holbrook:

Yes. Since I've owned the company since 2018, I've had three suicides, all young white males, and at least two others going through a major mental health crisis. So it became a passion of mine to figure out how to talk about it, how to have better resources and tools. So when Mandy said she was going to offer this, I was on board ready to jump.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Immediately. Tom, kind of the same thing. You've seen this, like you said, in your past jobs and you just want to make it right. What are you seeing?

Tom Truelson:

I mean, I think the one that stands out to me the most is the addiction. I have a handful of recovering addicts in my company and knew they coming on board that these were struggles that they were going to have to deal with. You can go with the old mindset of, buck up, you can do this. Just get through it. Work harder. Figure it out kind of thing. You'll be fine, don't talk about it. I mean, I knew when I started this business, I mean, this new venture that I wasn't going to be able to do that. I knew a lot of the guys that were going to be joining my company from knowing them previously, they were going to be bringing these mental things, things that they're just baggage. I don't want to say baggage as in a bad term, but things that they were coming on board with that I wanted to be there to be able to walk that walk with them as well, be able to understand what they're going through and talk about it and lose that stigma that you can't talk about anymore.

So when you came here, part of the culture is everybody's same team, talk about it, own it, and we're all there to help. I think that's the part that stuck out with me. Mandy had mentioned, we had somebody at our old company that had a problem, and we didn't really know how to deal with it. I needed to be better prepared for that.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Everybody, if you want these stats, we will have these again, but I'm bringing at the panel. And so, one of the questions is, "Why me?" Maybe Mandy, let's start with you. What makes getting certified... How do people start that journey? I mean, Christee and Tom have said this a little bit, but I think there's a lot of people who are like, "Well, I don't know what to do."

Mandy McIntyre:

Yeah, I think anyone who's in a leadership position should really have this training because you're creating a culture of care. You're empowering your employees to come to work as their whole authentic self, and you're there to support them. And so, when we talk about the labor shortage, people can go get a job anywhere, they can go on any roofing company. What makes them want to work for your company? And part of what people are looking for post-pandemic is they're looking for purpose, they're looking for a company that truly cares about them. It's more than just throwing them more money. So it's important to have the confidence and to have the training to be able to have these conversations, because that's your engagement, that's your buy-in for your employees. And it's a great recruiting tool too to say, "Hey, we have this program in place. We have people who are trained. We're here for you if you're struggling."

Heidi Ellsworth:

Okay. We're going to get into more of what Mandy's doing and the certified, but I want to make sure that we are getting to the questions too. So thank you, I love the fact we have so many questions already coming in. I also wanted to share that we're getting some folks who have also... Henry Stags, thank you for being on. He's saying how happy he is that we're doing this and how hard it is to do it. But also, Henry had suicides in his company also. I think this is something on dealing with that... Having mental health but then also in a crisis situation dealing with that. So Christee, I know it's hard, but talk a little bit about how you dealt with all of your employees after those tragedies happened.

Christee Holbrook:

I brought in a therapist to talk about mental health, to be there to be a resource if they needed to reach out to him. We started having toolbox talks. I'm not afraid to go up to my guy anymore and bring him in my office and say, "I'm worried about you. What's going on? Not trying to cry, but I'm here if you need something." Because it is important. I mean, one of my guys fell apart right before our eyes, and we didn't know what to do and didn't have the resources, we felt like, to deal with it, so I didn't want that to happen again. We'd be more prepared.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah, I mean, you feel like you're the only one out there and then, all of a sudden, you have these conversations and you realize everyone's been dealing with this. Tom, Cassandra, thank you, Cassandra for your question, said, "After learning that your employees were recovering addicts and you taking an active interest in their mental health, how did that improve their loyalty and dedication to you and your company?" Great question.

Tom Truelson:

I'd say that it definitely improved it. I tell the guys a lot, I love them. I really do. At the end of the day, if they're struggling mentally, if they're struggling with anything, I feel like we're all struggling. We all own it the same way. I'd have to ask other people about their loyalty and stuff like that, but I feel like they're pretty loyal to the business and the company. I want them to know that I'm just as loyal back. So I think that goes as meeting them halfway.

We do still have two employees that are in recovery houses. And those are some special demands that certain times, certain check-ins and that, and me being aware of that and being empathetic to that idea that they're still doing that. I'm along with them with their struggle and their journey. We have to make some concessions in the business of like, hey, they have to leave early. Hey, they have to go do this. Hey, have to go meet with this person. It's a struggle sometimes business wise, but at the end of the day, it's not really about the business. If they come back the next day and they're healthy, that will help the business tenfold other than making it hard for them to get healthy. And that's not the idea for any of that.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Right. Right. It's interesting too, Henry made a comment about Gen Zs. I think the generational difference between basically how Gen Xers dealt with mental health and how Gen Zs are demanding we deal with mental health different is a big factor too, especially with employees if you want to hire that next thing. Mandy, I know you've talked a lot about the generations and how they work back and forth. Are you seeing that the Gen Zs are pushing this, too, to have these conversations?

Mandy McIntyre:

Oh my gosh, yes, yes. We talk about the roofing industry, about how do we attract talent into the industry. Well, this is one way, because Gen Z, there's a whole nother set of demands. The talent pool, what they want, is different than what we're used to seeing. That's work-life balance. That's talking about mental health. That's having these different wellness initiatives. It's diversity, equity, and inclusion. So by putting these into place, you are making your company way more attractive to this incoming talent that we need for our industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:

I think this is across the board. I mean, obviously, the statistics for construction is just so sad, so terrifying really. But I see it even at Roofer's Coffee Shop. We have a lot of young Gen Zs, young millennials, and we do things different. We have these conversations. We have mental health days at times too. That's just a very light side of it, but it's still important that people know it's okay to work through that. I want to make sure I talk a little bit for everyone out there, be sure everyone, keep asking you questions, but we want to talk a little bit about how, right? There's always talking about it, but then how do you take that next step, like Christee was talking, when she brought in therapists? Mandy, to be proactive and get certified, talk a little bit about that.

Mandy McIntyre:

What I offer, it's mental health first aid, and it's through the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. It's a three-year certification. What I've done is I've taken their program, and I have to maintain the fidelity of their program, but there's three points where it's roofing and construction specific, with the statistics, with the contributing factors. Because there's specific factors that come with roofing and construction in regards to mental health. And it's not just the factors of the workforce, it's the factors of our culture too. So we talk about that. And then it comes with mental health toolbox talks, a resource guide, a hard hat sticker so that you're constantly promoting that we support mental health. But what it teaches you is how to identify, understand, and respond to a mental health challenge or crisis, how to have those conversations, how to ask somebody, "Are you thinking of killing yourself?" Because that's a big one where people are like, "If someone's suicidal or thinking of suicide, I can't talk to them about it, it's going to push them in that direction," and it's the complete opposite. So it really empowers you to navigate when something will happen because it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when, because these problems are there. And then it just helps you create a culture of mental health awareness.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. Wow. Tom, you are certified and you are implementing this. How is it going in your roofing company?

Tom Truelson:

It's going well. The guys that have struggled before, they appreciate it. They see the effort that's being made. Where I see the biggest difference I think are the, lack of better terms, old-school roofers, guys that like, "Tough it out. You're fine. Be a man," that whole mentality. We talk about it a lot more. They're actually sending me text message like, "Hey, I think he's struggling today. Just to give you a heads up." And to see somebody write me that text, to give me that heads up, I know that's not him speaking out or doing anything to help that person on his team, but he's letting me know he sees something and he's concerned. I don't think two, three years ago that this individual would've done that.

Going back to what Mandy said, and this is part of the reason that I really wanted to take this as well, is that she had said, "Are you thinking about committing suicide? Are you thinking about ending it?" having that question. It's a lot easier to ask that question before than it is after, because you can't ask it if it were to happen. Those are one of my things that I always think about when I terminate somebody or I have to let them go for business reasons, it's never personal, it's always a business reason in the past, but I always try to make sure that when they're gone I look back and I go, "I did absolutely everything I could to keep them here." If I ever had that question where, "Well, maybe I could have done this, maybe I could have done that," I don't want to have that. And so, I think it goes in that same way of, looking back, could you have said something? I mean, I'd rather say something and be uncomfortable and then be mad I ask them than opposed to not having that opportunity to ask them a year from now when something bad happened.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. It is, it's such a hard conversation. How have you seen that, Christee, same thing, implementing it and starting to bring this into your team?

Christee Holbrook:

I have a lot of old-school workers, but then with us 30 and 40 years, when I first brought in counselors and started talking about mental health, it was silence and strange looks. They're getting more used to it, and they are too checking on other employees. I find out that one of my guys has had a rough time and the whole crew has been texting and making sure he's okay if he's not at work, which is what they all need. I think that that's great. I think that's a new thing. I think it's working, and we're just going to keep on measuring it.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Keep having the conversations. When you talk about, again, the old-time roofers or the more Gen X, I'm with you, Gen X, that takes a lot of... I mean, some training. And Tom, I love your comment of, "Hey, they're texting me," so we're getting down the road. Mandy, what's some of the advice or as you're doing this training on really helping people who... I mean, let's be honest, many of us grew up being told not to talk about this, and so you're totally changing a whole mindset and making something okay to talk about. How do you deal with that in the program?

Mandy McIntyre:

Well, we talk about looking for signs and symptoms. I think that's one of the biggest things is to know your employees and to see if there's changes in their behavior, absenteeism. But I think the mental health toolbox talks really set the tone because when you do a toolbox talk around mental health, that's saying a lot, and it's giving people permission to acknowledge things.

When I was at First Choice, I remember, and Tom, I don't know if you remember this, one of the first mental health toolbox talks I did there was called Owning Your Feelings. It was basically a toolbox talk that instead of reacting to your feelings, it's responding to them and saying, "I'm feeling angry," versus "I'm angry." So to give your feelings and your emotions a little less control over you. At first, everyone was eye rolling, they were like, "Mandy, what the heck is this?" But at the end of it, there was like... I don't know, you could just sense the energy and vibe of the room where it was being received. Because deep down, everyone has these issues. Everyone has struggled with something at some point in their life. It's just a matter of are they going to feel or allow themselves to talk about it? And that takes a lot of vulnerability. So when the company sets the tone, it creates a safe space where it's not seen as a sign of weakness, it's seen as a sign of strength, really, to say, "Hey, I'm noticing this about myself or somebody else."

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. Wow. I mean, I think that's so true. I love Cassandra just said, "You were allowing everyone to be human." It's true because we aren't super women, super men, we're all human. When you talk about the signs too, I want to make sure we talk a little bit about that because you said absenteeism. Christee, I mean, you've gone through this, what are some of the signs that you now talk about to watch out for on your team?

Christee Holbrook:

Well, the absenteeism is one of them. But one of my guys' behavior totally changed. Looking, in hindsight, looking back, that's when we realized he was falling apart before our eyes. He didn't deal with mental illness and saw other people that had mental illness as weak and was very hard on them. We didn't know he had mental illness, so again, it was all hindsight. Looking back it was, "Wow, this was going on, and we didn't even know it." He was lying. Towards the end, came in very dirty, disheveled, and we had to put him in a room and say, "Okay, you got to stay here until we get all the guys out so we can come back and deal with him." It was intense.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. Wow. Tom, same thing, and this may... suicide or addiction that a lot of times can lead, obviously, to suicide. What are some of the signs that you look for within your employees?

Tom Truelson:

Being a little more withdrawn from both conversation, being withdrawn from work as a [inaudible 00:26:22]. They're some certain standards or guidelines that we try to follow every single day, expectations, and sometimes you'll start seeing guys not meet those expectations, even though they might be small in terms of uploading pictures or doing something or letting a customer know stuff. If they're not meeting those expectations, for me personally, that is a red flag right away. It's a simple of, what happened with that? You can start to feel that out as well. I do have a very personal with my employees, we have an open dialogue, very honest, but I think it goes back to them who they work with every day and letting them know that the other person cares about them. I hear a majority of my stuff is from the people that they work with. "Hey, I'm concerned about him." "Hey, he's not doing this." "Hey, he's making mistakes that he normally doesn't make." I remember one that was... "Hey, he came today and he was wearing a piece of caution tape for a belt."

Okay, well, he needed a belt. He tore a piece of caution tape off and he wore it. And so, looking back at that, that was an indication that something wasn't... As minor as that might be or anything else, I think that's a huge red flag. And so, it's hearing, especially when you have a lot of different people, having those people that work with them every day and knowing, "We're looking out for each other. Please let somebody know if you see something different." That's that team effort, and I think that's where you start to see that. But it's really withdrawn. Something just doesn't seem right, trust your instinct. Dig deep and figure it out. If there's nothing wrong, then you did what you tried to do, what you're setting out to accomplish.

Heidi Ellsworth:

And they know you care, care enough to ask and to do it. We had a question come in, it says, "I can see how it could be easy to know and understand a few, how do you handle it with large companies with many employees?" Thank you, George. That was from George Rutherford. So Mandy, you want to start that?

Mandy McIntyre:

Something like this needs to be all-encompassing. Basically, anybody who's in a leadership, manager, supervisor role should have this training as part of a safety initiative, because, yes, there is a huge disconnect between upper management and leadership and the guys and girls out on the field. So who is the superintendent or project manager, whoever is dealing with them on a daily basis, having this training helps bridge that gap. Because we can say in all this stuff, we're going to do this, we're going to do that within our company, but is it affecting the people that are being impacted by this the most? And unless you have someone that deals with them every day, they're not going to receive the benefits of this. So I would say get your superintendents, PMs, what have you, that deal with the crews directly.

Heidi Ellsworth:

So everybody has somebody watching out for them directly-

Mandy McIntyre:

Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:

... everyday.

Mandy McIntyre:

Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yes. Going back to, Tom, what you said, and Christee too, but sometimes it's the littlest things, but the little things lead to the big things. Nicole Brown, thank you, Nicole, said, "Sometimes just noticing that someone is struggling and asking them if they're struggling and how you can help is helpful." So whether there's something wrong or not.

Tom Truelson:

You really got to have employees that care. If you have people working underneath you or have people in the field that don't care about other people, it's not going to help. I mean, you can't teach the caring. You have to find individuals and you bring them on board that just genuinely care about people and care about their job and care about that stuff. I know that's like, oh, that's common sense, but it's very hard to do.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. I mean, let's just be honest, construction, I mean, I grew up in a construction family. My dad was a general contractor. I mean, you hear the stories about chasing that inspector off the site or something like that and you're like, "That's not really the way it should be. That's some angry issues there."

Tom Truelson:

And as a leader in your company, if you don't care, they're not going to care.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Right. Right. And so it needs to start, as with everything, at the top.

Christee Holbrook:

I also think talking to them and being honest, letting them know that sometimes... I mean, we all struggle. I struggle. And hearing some things I'm struggling with, it just makes you human, and it makes them feel like they can come to you.

Heidi Ellsworth:

And being honest and sharing your stories, we talk about that a lot.

Mandy McIntyre:

I know. Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Maureen Greece, hello, Maureen, thank you, she had a question. Her question is... And it just went up... "What advice can you give to companies that might have field support teams all across the country and not coming into a hub location on a daily basis?" It kind of goes back to what you were saying, Mandy, about who's your direct support.

Mandy McIntyre:

Yeah. I would recommend who's ever the supervisor or manager or superintendent of that crew, wherever they may be, to have the tools and resources for these. Because actually, one of the contributing factors for the workforce is transitory workforce. We're sending people out for weeks, months at a time. They don't have their family. They don't have their support system. It's very isolating. That is a huge factor when it comes to mental health challenges, when it comes to addiction, when it comes to alcohol use. So those remote teams are at the most risk, to be honest. They really need somebody looking out for them and talking to them, having a mental health toolbox talk once a month to get them engaged in this conversation.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Let's talk a little bit because we're getting a lot of questions on that, about the mental health toolbox talks. Obviously, you've developed Know Your Feelings, I love that, but as part of this certification program and part of what is being offered out there, talk a little bit about those toolbox talks and how to implement that.

Mandy McIntyre:

I have some that I offer, and a lot of them that I get, I'm part of the construction Suicide Prevention Task Force, which is a group of construction industry professionals, and we work with OSHA on getting suicide prevention awareness in the construction industry, and a lot of it has been developed from the AGC out of Kansas City. And so, I've developed some myself, but there's a lot of organizations out there that are trying to combat the same problem.

I always suggest, once a month, a toolbox talk should be mental health related. You just do it. You just make it part of your safety program. Because then the more you talk about it, the more it becomes routine, and they expect it. Now, the first couple ones, if you've never talked to them about it before, you may get some heckles, but it works. I've seen it work. I've seen it make a difference. It's uncomfortable, but nothing is going to change unless you get a little uncomfortable. And then it starts to become comfortable, and it starts to become normal.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Christee, when you started your toolbox talks with your team, tell us about that, the awkward eye rolls, how'd it work, and where's it come since then?

Christee Holbrook:

They were just silent and squirming in their seats. It was awkward. But we didn't start that until we had had suicide, so I think it could have been worse with my guys. But it has gotten better. I'm bringing a counselor Monday to do a talk again because we're going into the holidays, getting dark earlier, people get more depressed, but they are opening up more and talking about it. You can tell they're a little more open and receptive to listening to it. I've had several people that thanked me for doing that.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Is it also getting some of the leaders talking to them ahead of time and letting them know that you're going to be bringing this program in, trying to build some advocacy for it even before you maybe launch it to your whole team?

Christee Holbrook:

I did with my management team and superintendents, we talked about it, what we were going to be doing, but that does help.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Good there. Tom, how about you? How is the toolbox talks from the start to where you are now, and how did you implement that?

Tom Truelson:

A couple of my guys are from the old company. I do remember that first talk that she did. She brought it up me and said, "What do you think about me doing this today?" I was like, "Go for it." I like to give the managers their complete ability to do whatever they want to do and manage their team. I was prepared for some pushback, but it went well. I think that now I do these probably pretty regular. I say a lot of times I was like, "Look, guys, the best part about bread is the soft center." I said, "Nobody likes the crust, so that hard persona and stuff doesn't work, you got to get to the soft center of it because that's the best part of the bread." So I say that to the guys, and they expect it.

I get comments sometimes when they're like, "Oh, is this going to be one of those emotional talks, one of those things?" I'm like, "It might just be one of those." And they're like, "Okay." It's a lot less pushback. They accept it. They can see it's going to happen now when I start to bring stuff up. It's getting rid of that stigma. I mean, we just talk about it probably more than we even need to. You can't talk about it enough, I guess, it's one of those things. I show my soft side a lot to them, and I think that helps as well.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. This might be a little bit of a preconceived... or I'm looking at it. But I think a lot of times people expect women to maybe step up and talk about this more. So when it's actually coming from a man, Tom, where you are being that advocate, I think that speaks so strongly to your team and getting your guys to understand this.

Tom Truelson:

Yeah, it is. It's made a big difference. I think taking that training, I'm a very sarcastic person, so I was very sarcastic when I would dole it out to the guys and stuff. But what that training did for me was being able to, I guess, control the conversation a lot better. I could dictate where it was going to go in terms of, whatever answer they had, I was ready for and we could work and navigate it together. So it does help to be, I think, a guy to a guy because having a woman come up and say something to a guy, they're like, "Well, I'm not going to show my emotions and stuff like that." But whereas I will tell you, "I'm feeling like crap today." I've done that before. I've texted the guys all and been like, "Hey, I'm feeling like crap today, guys." If you need a mental day as a leader, there's a good chance your guys or your employees need one too. So take that into account, because if you tell them, "Hey, I'm taking a mental day today, let's half a day do that," it goes a long way.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. Yeah, that's good. I want to make sure I'm getting to some of the questions. We had a question that I think we may have answered but it's just so important I want to make sure we did. It was from Cassandra. Again, thank you. "A mentoring support pyramid is ideal for large corporations, but how do you implement something like this? Is there an outline or instruction manual for something like that?" Specifically that mentoring, Mandy?

Mandy McIntyre:

Yeah, I would say the first step is getting leadership on board to even put something like this into place. And one of the things I always say is, "The biggest way to engage leadership into initiative like this is to talk about risk and liability and then profitability and recruitment and retention." With safety, it obviously is going to help your safety initiative because if people are mentally well, they're going to perform better. The American Psychiatric Association, they approximate 60 to 80% of workplace related injuries are due to stress. And then when you talk about profitability, and this is from SHRM, every $1 invested in mental health initiatives has a three to $5 return on your investment. There is $23 billion spent annually in the US on work productivity loss due to just depression alone. That's also from SHRM. And then SHRM, which SHRM is a Society for Human Resource Management, they have a statistic here, because they have a whole platform on mental health, that mental illness is forecasted to contribute to $16 trillion in lost output by the year 2030.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Wow.

Mandy McIntyre:

Yeah. If you get on this now, you're ahead of the curve, because unless you do some things different, it's just going to get worse. And then recruitment and retention, 76% of people believe companies should be doing more to support mental health in their workforce, and 85% of people say their mental health issues at work negatively affect their home life and vice versa. That's also from SHRM. So there's plenty of statistics as to why we should put this into our companies. I think getting leadership engagement is the first step. And if you show them these numbers, it gets the buy in, and then you keep building on the management and you build that pyramid.

Heidi Ellsworth:

That's right. I forgot at the beginning to remind everybody, Megan Ellsworth is in the background, our producer, but Mandy and Megan, I think it'd be great where you got those statistics, Mandy, if we can pop that in the chat or just so that people have it, that would be great.

Mandy McIntyre:

I can do a screenshot right now for you.

Heidi Ellsworth:

There's a lot of people who are on here who are saying, "Okay" And that is so true, it starts at the top. And so, if you are on this call and you're not the owner, but you need to go to your owner, this is the kind of stuff... have them watch this on demand. And then also, we are going to get you these stats, because you can talk to Christee, you can talk to Tom about how it's worked in their business and how it has actually happened. So we're going to share that information too on here with questions. But I do want to say, again, we have a lot of people saying yes. This is from Henry, he teaches his students, he has a school in Arizona on roofing, and he teaches his students to speak, "Speaking up is getting your friends back. Safety is more than ropes and harnesses, it's empathy and awareness." I love that. So true.

Sandy said, and this is why, Sandy, I'm going to make sure we get this out there, "I would like information on how to sign up for this training and the program." Sandy is with Santa Mark. So talk about a big company out there with a lot of reach. Sandy, thank you so much for being on here and doing this. This is amazing. So Megan's putting the stuff out there. She's also getting all the stats. I think Mandy has a screenshot there.

Mandy McIntyre:

I put the screenshot with the statistics.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Like you said, Mandy, just googling it, you're going to find that this is across the board, right?

Mandy McIntyre:

Yeah. And if you've noticed, NRCA has done some articles about this, different safety magazines. OSHA will post every now and then about mental health. It's becoming more of a conversation, but we need to do more than just talk about it, like you said earlier, we need to do take action. And part of that is getting the education and then implementing that within your team.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Exactly. Okay. We have a bunch. Cassandra says, "Yes. From experience, when other men speak up and speak out about mental health, it makes a huge difference. So Tom, thank you." I agree, I've seen the same thing. Then Nicole, "Thank you. Leading by example." I wanted to make sure I've gotten everybody here. Yes, we have. And thank you, Henry. We have all kinds of things. Okay, let's talk about a little bit about the new, and I'm going to share my screen again and share this, the new number for suicide awareness. I'm going to pull that up right now. But Mandy, maybe talk a little bit about this. This is Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 988. I don't know if it's new, but tell everybody about this.

Mandy McIntyre:

It is. Yes. So 988, the previous Suicide Prevention Lifeline, that number still is in effect, but they transition to a simple 988. The goal is to make it synonymous with 911 when it comes to suicide and mental health crisis. What's great about it is you don't have to be in crisis mode yourself, you can call for somebody else. I actually have a story, somebody that I know through my mental health world, she was watching a YouTube video and it was a live YouTube video. The woman was talking about killing herself. She called 988. They tracked down to the city where they were this woman was at. They found her and sent not only just the police, but certain police departments have special people who know more about suicide and how to handle those situations, and they sent someone to her house.

This was all from 988. They were on two totally opposite ends of the country. So that just shows the power of what this can do. It's a great resource. It's really easy to remember, 988. When I do the training, I give a mental health first aid hardhat sticker, but I also give a 988 hardhat sticker. But I would suggest to everybody watching this, if you just Google 988, you can find posters and different things to print out and put around your office and your warehouses so that people know that this resource is out there.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Wow. Christee, and then I'll go Tom, but Christee, the 988, the Suicide Prevention things, how have you implemented that and communicated that to your team?

Christee Holbrook:

We have put posters around and talked about it when we had our mental health toolbox talks. But we do have that posted around our office and our shop.

Heidi Ellsworth:

And Tom?

Tom Truelson:

Yeah, same. It's having those posters out. But I think I stress to the point, when there's an emergency, you dial 911. If there is an emergency, obviously, it's important enough to have a three-digit number that you can remember quick, and that's how important it is to have something like that. You're not getting that one 1-800, "What is that number? Let me look it up," kind of thing, the old one. It's that important that you need to remember that. The guys know it. It's one of those things I hope that if it ever comes to that point they can remember how they know it, and they can remember it pretty quickly and go back to it. But there's a part of me that says, "I hope they remember it, but I hope they never have to."

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that's the whole proactive part of being certified and talking about it that, hopefully it won't get to that point. George Daisy, thank you for being on again George, and he just wanted to say, "This is so good. My wife is a nurse certified in mental health and addiction, so I've learned so much from her." And I just met her at the last trade show, so good to hear that. "It is so important that we come together and support each other. I know it is hard to see sometimes, but if we can see warning signs and intervene before it is a crisis, that's a win." And he said thank you very much to all of you for this session, for really having this conversation.

One of the things that I think we also... I want to go back just a little bit. For all those people who are on this coffee conversation right now who maybe are saying, "I want to do this, this is so important," but are not able to get supportive leadership, and I think we've all been there at one point, so what are some of the strategies. I know the statistics, the ROI, but, Mandy, hit that a little bit again too. Give some people some things to take to their management who maybe just think this is all fluff.

Mandy McIntyre:

I've seen that with business owners or upper management leadership teams that are... I think it could be a generational thing too. I think a lot of the older generational roofers, it's like, "Suck it up." But I think that the statistics help, that screenshot that I put, but I think a question of saying, okay, everyone has a labor shortage issue, and I think putting it out there of saying, "Hey, this is something we haven't tried before. We can't keep doing the same thing and expect a different result." I always think tying anything to the labor shortage, because everyone's desperate for people. And so, if you put it that way and say, "Can we just try this," and then say, "Hey, our company offers this," and put it in your ads, put it in every platform that you have that you this. Because people are attracted to that. Everyone is suffering. Everyone is suffering in one way or another or they know someone who is. So it hits home for people.

That's how you get that connection, that engagement, that buy in. And then I would also suggest, if you've had any people on your team, and chances are you probably have, that either they got fired or they quit or you've just seen them struggle to say, "Hey, how can we make our team more engaged, and how can we get more buy in from our team?" This is a way. I just think that using the labor shortage is good for anything. And also that ROI, like every $1 invested, three to $5 return. I think you just say, "Hey, this is what we need to do. This is a problem I see. Here's a solution, I have to fix it. Are you with me?"

Heidi Ellsworth:

How do you do it? Yeah. Christee, what would you say to other owners who maybe are not buying in?

Christee Holbrook:

Don't wait until it's already happened to you. You need to be prepared. For years, I'd heard that construction has the highest suicide and I've said it, "Oh that never happened. We've been in business 54 years, never happened to us." And then boom, boom, boom, right there in a row. So don't wait until you've already had it. Go ahead and get this program in place because it may make the difference.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. Tom?

Tom Truelson:

When you asked that question a minute ago, I'd try to put myself in a situation where I'd have to go to a boss or something and say, "I want to do this," and I get pushback. I guess my thing would be, "Well, why don't you care about your employees?" That would probably be my first answer to my boss if that's the case. I mean, even if it only affects one, this is such a small investment, what are we doing here if we can't take care of the people that are taking care of the business? I guess that was my first thing. I probably would've tried to play a mental role play there for a second, and that's what I came up with. The ROI on this just, it's stupid not to do it. I just can't see why you wouldn't want to. There's so many positives versus none of the negatives.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah. I've been in this situation where you're trying to do the right things and there's just that pushback. So I agree, I think these are the things. Let them talk to other business owners who are doing it. That connection, I think, is so important. Speaking of which, another great leader, Pete Schmaltz, just sent through the Q&A, "Thanks for this." Thank you for being on, Pete. These are the kind of things that I think as an industry, also as other people are hearing all of you and they're seeing that this is real and that we need to continue these discussions, which we will. We have more of these conversations. Nicole Brown said, "This is right from Mandy's website and really speaks to me, 'There's no such thing as a labor shortage. What we have is a leadership and quality company culture shortage.'" Mandy, that's pretty awesome.

Mandy McIntyre:

That's been my platform for a long time. Actually it was at, I think, the IRE in New Orleans when we did a Coffee Conversations and I said something to that effect. Because it's true. All you have to do is be a better company, and you will attract more people. I have seen it work firsthand when I was with the roofing contractor. I've seen it work with Tom with... What, Tom, you had 13 applicants in a week with putting like-

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yes.

Mandy McIntyre:

... with highlighting the company culture on his job postings. I mean, at one point when I was with the roofing contractor, we had a waiting list for people. Just be a better company, that's all you have to do. Show people that you care and stand behind it.

Heidi Ellsworth:

It's so true. It's so true. Maureen says, "Thank you to RCS and the panelists for bringing this topic out of the dark into the light. Brave, thoughtful leadership. As my favorite author says, 'We can do hard things.'" Which I think this is hard things. I'll say I've been through this journey with my family, and we brought a lot of things out the corners out of the dark. It's not easy. It's easy. Your parents sometimes don't want to hear it, your family doesn't want to hear it, they don't want to talk about it, but by talking about it now, many years later, oh all of a sudden, we can have these discussions, it's okay, even though the first time, some people just want to ignore you.

Andy also said... Oh, he said, "I came in a little late. What is the name of Mandy's consulting firm and how do we contact her for this service and training? I'm in Southern California." Well Andy, thank you for asking because oh, that's the next slide. Here's Mandy's information. You know what? We don't have Tom and Christee's here. Tom and Christee, if you're comfortable with that, if you want to pop your email into the chat, just if people want to email you with questions, that would be.

Tom Truelson:

I'm not important, just reach out to Mandy.

Mandy McIntyre:

And then Mandy will get you to Tom.

Tom Truelson:

Get it.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Okay, good. Yeah, Mandy's put her information in there so we've got it. I hope I didn't miss anybody's. I know John Kenny, thank you for being on here. You had some thoughts earlier. I don't want to miss anybody in the chat or the Q&A. We have just a few minutes left, so Mandy, talk about your company and how people can work with you.

Mandy McIntyre:

Thank you so much. I actually have an upcoming training on November 15th. It's virtual. Tom and Christee did the virtual training. I have the registration link on my website if you go to levelup-consultants.com. It's about six hours. It takes two hours of pre-course work, which is self-paced, so that when you come to the virtual training you have an idea of some key terms. I also do private onsite trainings, like company-wide trainings that I've done for people throughout the country. I've done those in person or virtually. And so, I can do groups of up to 30 people at a time in person, and virtual, it's up to 15 people at a time. I really want to thank everybody for your enthusiasm for this topic because... I mean, I love the roofing industry so much and I never would want to leave. I truly care about it, and I care about the people on the roofs.

I care about the people just working in this industry period. I just think that we can do better as an industry to elevate the industry really, because we're talking about legitimizing roofing as a true career in all of this, and it's like other industries and other corporate settings, they have these things in place. These are the things we have to do in our industry to keep evolving so that we don't stay behind the trend. I wouldn't even say trend because it's becoming the status quo. So please email me, call me, visit my website. I'd love to work with you to get this resource and education into your hands.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Christee, Tom, you both took the training, you did the virtual training. How was it? Christee, we'll start with you.

Christee Holbrook:

It was great. I am suggesting everybody take it. I've been talking to Mandy about offering it to ABC, Mississippi. I've talked to National Women Roofing about doing it. I'm going to put a couple more people through it. I think everybody needs to do it.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah, Tom?

Christee Holbrook:

A few people in the company.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah.

Tom Truelson:

It will change the way you interact with your employees from day one. I'll even go this far, if you're on this call right now, if you're on this video and you get push back from your leadership that you're not going to be able to take it, they don't want to pay, message me, I will pay for you to be able to take this because it is that important for you to go into the industry. I mean, I want to run into you at IRE and I want you to tell me how much of a difference it made in your company, because that's how important it is in the roofing industry. The next three to five years, this is our window to make a difference.

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah, that is so great. I just want to say thank you to all of you. I have goosebumps. This has just been phenomenal. Everyone in the chat right now as you're reading it, they're like, "Thank you." Nicole's going to share it with her husband who's on the HVAC side of the world. Cassandra said, "I'm doing the mental health first aid training next week. I'm so excited to be able to develop my skills."

Mandy McIntyre:

Can I say one thing, a shout-out to Cassandra?

Heidi Ellsworth:

Yeah.

Mandy McIntyre:

I created a little fellowship program for Mental Health First Aid, and Cassandra, she reached out to me on LinkedIn about how she wanted to take this training. She is my first scholarship recipient to do the training, so I'm excited for her to be on next week's training session.

Heidi Ellsworth:

That is cool. Cassandra and Mandy and everybody, we want to hear about it. Roofer's Coffee Shop, Mandy is one of our influencers. We're going to keep having these articles come out. Mandy also has a directory on Roofer's Coffee Shop, so if you haven't had plenty of time to grab the information off this slide, you can just find her very easily on Roofer's Coffee Shop, and we're going to be continuing this. The thank yous are just still coming in. It's awesome. Thank you all. For Tom, Christee, Mandy, thank you so much for this coffee conversation.

Mandy McIntyre:

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Tom Truelson:

Thank you.

Heidi Ellsworth:

And thank all of you for being here today. I know we're right at the top of the hour. December 1st is our next coffee conversation, so we're going to take a little break over the Thanksgiving, but December 1st, and it's about season of giving with Trent Cottony and the Foundations of the Industry. So we're going to have Roofing Alliance on there, Chicago, Florida, and Western Stacy Davis Memorial. These groups are doing scholarships for kids, they're doing amazing things, and sometimes some programs like this. So don't miss that on December 1st. We will see you all next time. And remember, this is on demand. Share it with everybody, so it'll be on demand in 24 hours. If you need any more information, you know how to get ahold of us. So thank you so much for being on. Have a great day, and we'll see you on the next Coffee Conversations.



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