1 min read

Season 4, Episode 186

Painters improving mental health awareness with a hands-on approach



Guest Name:

Jimmy Williams Jr.

Guest Website:


Guest Social Media:





Supportive Documents:

Continuing our efforts to raise awareness during National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the General President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Jimmy Williams Jr., joined the America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss their Employee Awareness Program (EAP), the Helping Hands Program.

The IUPAT created the Helping Hands Program to assist its members with mental wellness. To make their EAP effective, Williams’ first hire as General President was to bring aboard Chris Scheiblein as the first full-time EAP director for any International. The stigma around mental health continues to impact the construction industry and Helping Hands works to break down these boundaries and make it OK not to be OK. 

To break the stigma about mental health assistance requires the building of trust. In order to help build trust with its members, the IUPAT focused its EAP on direct assistance. Construction workers face significant stress in their lives, and knowing their union is there for them on the worksite and at home provides a sense of relief. The program hopes to provide services to assist with any difficult situation a member may face in their life, and the IUPAT wants to ensure its members seek out their peers first.

The Helping Hands Program is directly connected to individual IUPAT District Council Helping Hands programs and ensures local resources are available. Williams said members are more likely to seek assistance at the local level. He emphasized the issues surrounding mental health are not talked about enough, and the IUPAT has spent considerable time developing peer training for stewards to help members. He believes the training available to members and the program's direct assistance philosophy sets it apart from other unions’ EAPs and Member Assistance Programs. These differences have led to a greater success rate with members, he added.

To learn more about the Helping Hands Program, press play on the show above.

America’s Work Force is the only daily labor podcast in the US and has been on the air since 1993, supplying listeners with useful, relevant input into their daily lives through fact-finding features, in-depth interviews, informative news segments and practical consumer reports. America’s Work Force is committed to providing an accessible venue in which America's workers and their families can hear discussion on important, relevant topics such as employment, healthcare, legislative action, labor-management relations, corporate practices, finances, local and national politics, consumer reports and labor issues.

America’s Work Force Union Podcast is brought to you in part by our sponsors: AFL-CIO, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of Musicians Local 4, American Alliance for Manufacturing, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, Communication Workers of America, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 50, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Crafts, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 6, Ironworkers Great Lakes District Council, The Labor Citizen newspaper, Laborers International Union of The National Labor Office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, North America, North Coast Area Labor Federation, Ohio Federation of Teachers, Survey and Ballot Systems, United Labor Agency, United Steelworkers.


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