Ajax President Vince Hafeli, a man who ascended to rare professional heights even amid personal turmoil. Hafeli’s own struggles compelled him to research mental health in the construction industry — and what he discovered was jarring: Suicide rates for construction workers are about 4.5 times higher than the general population. This striking statistic has traditionally been explained by a long list of factors.
“It’s a tough industry,” Hafeli explains. “You work long days, and some nights, that can lead to sleep deprivation, which is part of it. There are a fair amount of injuries in the business.”
At Ajax, mental health is viewed as a team effort. Everyone has a role to play. Everyone has a voice. Marketing Manager Cassie Rubio is tasked with spreading that message beyond the walls of Ajax. By sharing how her company emphasizes mental health, it can compel others to take similar steps.
“We’re putting the conversation in front of people, and it’s really starting to catch on.” Hafeli has also taken it upon himself to spread the message about mental health. He’s spoken at numerous industry events, delivered a TEDx Talk, and appeared on multiple podcasts. Each appearance moves the conversation another step forward, making the topic less taboo and more mainstream. “I thought that sharing my story would be the end of my career,” Hafeli says. “What I have found is that the opposite has happened. I’ve seen the good that can come from it. We’re all humans and we all want to help and learn. There’s no bad in sharing.”
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