Stories

Whole-Person Safety: How DPR is Moving from Awareness to Action

Throughout the year, DPR focuses on empowering workers to stay safe on jobsites, care for each other and support mental health.
A team of people stand in a circle with their hands in the middle
As part of an effort to prioritize whole-person safety—which includes psychological and social safety in addition to the physical—DPR makes it a point to support employees with access to mental health resources. Photo: Danny Sandler
Mental Health in Construction: Changing the Conversation

Mental health has a large impact on the construction industry. One in five construction workers struggle with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person working in construction is 3.5 times more likely to take their own life. For general contractors like DPR, who view safety as a value and a central part of its' culture, awareness must be supported by action. As part of an effort to prioritize whole-person safety—which includes psychological and social safety in addition to the physical—DPR makes it a point to support employees with access to mental health resources.

“Mental health hasn’t always been part of the conversation in construction, but we want to change that,” said Renee Stokman, a member of DPR’s Leadership Team who is championing the company’s efforts to support the mental health of employees. “For people to be empowered to make their wellbeing a priority, they need to understand their mental and physical health and know the ways they can take care of themselves. We also want to be sure our teammates have the resources they need to take action and communicate when someone is struggling.”

In addition to joining The Construction Industry’s Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the company has taken several steps across its business to connect, facilitate and equip individuals and teams with tools and resources, and to foster a safe and empowering environment.

Five people wearing PPE stand together arms around each other
Employee Resource Group

Last year, DPR established a Mental Health Employee Resource Group. Comprised of 140 employees and growing quickly, the group’s mission is to foster human compassion through education, community and influence to promote a mentally well organization.

“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being,” said William Lowe, DPR’s Mental Health ERG sponsor. “It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life.”

A classroom of people watch two presenters
DPR’s Atrium Health Bed Tower project recently held a Mental Health First Aid Course onsite for all employees and organizations involved in the project.
Connecting on the Jobsite

In the Southeast, DPR’s Atrium Health Bed Tower project recently held a Mental Health First Aid Course onsite for all employees and organizations involved in the project. The course, which was facilitated by an Atrium Health social worker, provided an action plan to safely identify and address potential mental health and substance use challenges. By improving people’s understanding and equipping them with the tools to start a dialogue, connections between those experiencing mental health challenges can be met with the appropriate support.

“We’ve been on a mental health journey to make the topic more visible and easier to digest with the typical stigma and perception it brings,” said Anthony Dohman, a DPR safety manager. “We’ve made some big strides but will continue to develop programs as we mature with our job culture.”

A group of adults and children stand in front of a finish line
In Charlotte, NC, a group of DPR teammates gathered their friends and family to participate in the first annual Mental Health Matters 5k to raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental health.
Moving for Mental Health

Research shows that exercise and physical activity improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and negative mood, providing a boost of self-esteem and improving cognitive function. Employees across the company are taking this to heart and jumping into action.

In Europe, DPR’s Tom Babbington founded the Data Center Cycling Club Tour of Europe, a weeklong bike event where participants ride from Amsterdam to Monaco to raise money for Mates in Mind, a charity dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing of workplaces across the UK.

Additionally, in Charlotte, NC, a group of DPR teammates gathered their friends and family to participate in the first annual Mental Health Matters 5k to raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental health.

Employee Outreach

In May, DPR hosted several companywide webinars to honor mental health awareness month. Employees attended a Burn Bright workshop designed to teach attendees how to build resilience skills and approach energy and performance with a new mindset. Later in the month, employees joined a webinar hosted by DPR’s Employee Assistance Program partner focused on happiness and social connectedness, exploring their influences on mental health and wellbeing.

DPR is also ensuring that employees have quick access to mental health resources by providing field guides, wallet cards and jobsite posters with mental health hotlines offered in both English and Spanish.

As a result of the actions DPR has taken towards whole-person safety, the company has been named to Newsweek’s inaugural list of America’s Greatest Workplaces for Mental Health. But DPR sees this as only the beginning of the company’s commitment to changing the way the construction industry supports employees. For example, DPR’s Southwest region is piloting a program for its community of craft professionals aimed at making mental health conversations less taboo.

"We are focused on creating an environment where our people are comfortable talking about their mental and physical wellbeing,” said Stokman. “We’re actively working to build belonging, help our teammates create social connections and fulfill our promise to deliver an inclusive and supportive employee experience.’’

Two workers wearing PPE walk on a jobsite with other workers in the background.

EHS is more than a program at DPR—it’s a foundational pillar of how we do business.

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