Next week we begin our holiday season celebrations, except this year is a little different. We won’t be able to gather as we normally do. To protect the health of our family and friends, we will be celebrating separately. As those in the paving and roofing industries in the US know, the winter is also a time when the pace of project work slows to a near halt even when Covid-19 is not present. There will be a greater distance between coworkers this year than ever before. People are nervous about the future of their employment, health, and the future. As much of a threat as Covid-19 presents, mental health struggles are also a concern that must be taken seriously.

The winter season and the holidays can trigger depression and anxiety even in the most normal of years. Knowing this is true, and compounding the season with the effects of Covid-19 on the world, it is more important than ever to check in with our coworkers, family, and friends.  Take the time to call them to check-in. Ask questions about their lives and listen to the responses. Ask “what’s going well for you?” to help them remember the positive. Make the effort to connect in socially distant but significant ways. Reach out by phone, email, virtual conference, or socially distanced visits. Try to ask questions like, “What made you smile today?”, “How are you going to spend your time this season?”, “How is your family?”, and watch the responses you receive. Check for people avoiding eye contact, not answering the questions directly, or those that have nothing to say. These red flags will indicate people that need more support. Check in again later with them privately to ensure their safety.

If you or someone you know finds themselves in crisis, don’t hesitate. Ask for help. Reach out to your family and friends. Be honest about your need for support. Find someone you can talk to. Remember that The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1(800)273-8255 as a resource.

May we all take care of ourselves and those we love with a little bit of extra kindness this season.