April 27, 2022


The Construction Industry Rehabilitation Plan (CIRP) is collaborating with Lifeguard Digital Health to customize the already popular Lifeguard app specifically for members of the building trades to access mental health support and services.

“Our goal is to have an app that truly puts help in the palm of the hand,” said Vicky Waldron, CIRP executive director. The app will allow members to connect with services wherever they are, and whenever they need them.”

“The opioid crisis continues to have a disproportionate impact on building and construction trades members,” said Waldron. “It’s a way for us to reach out to members and a way for them to reach out to us, in a way that is low-barrier,” she said.

The Lifeguard app was developed to respond to the opioid overdose crisis and protect people from using alone and potentially dying without anyone knowing about it. A standard feature of the app is the use-alone timer that alerts emergency services if a person is not responsive.

“The use-alone timer is so, so, important right now,” said Waldron, adding that one of the biggest risks of dying from an overdose is using alone, a risk which has increased with the pandemic. The timer had been used to save over 43 lives in B.C. since it was launched in 2020.

The app provides a range of other features to help prevent and respond to crisis, such as the locations of detox and prevention services in a person’s local area, notifications for bad drug alerts, and direct links to the BC Nurse’s Line, crisis, and suicide prevention lines.

The app also provides lifesaving instructions for administering overdose-reversing naloxone and CPR. These features, along with CIRP’s initiative to get naloxone kits into the hands of every member of the BC Building Trades’ affiliate unions, means the membership will have the tools to prevent potentially lethal overdoses.

An anonymous peer-to-peer chat feature is also in development to help people to connect with others going through the same types of experiences. CIRP members will be able to use the chat to connect with Mental Health Champions in the construction industry, said Waldron.

“It’s a way of creating community for those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it,” she said.

CIRP members will have access to skill-building videos on topics such as how to manage anxiety and depressive symptoms, and how to build mental health resilience in the workplace. Skills that are typically learned in counselling sessions will be accessible to members at the push of a button.

Members will also be able to take advantage of state-of-the-art technology through a virtual counselor.

The app will be released some time this spring. “If someone’s in crisis, the AI technology will be able to respond to a person then and there, and direct them to appropriate resources,” said Waldron. This sophisticated technology can recognize things like suicidal language patterns and will connect people to services required in the moment, she said.

Lifeguard CEO and founder Jeff Hardy said it is an honour to collaborate with CIRP to customize the app for the construction and trades industry.

“We consider all the men and women in the trades partners in ending the stigma surrounding substance use and mental health issues,” he said.

While the app is free to all construction workers, certain key features will only be accessible to members of BC Building Trades unions. These features include the ability to connect with Mental Health Champions through the chat and virtual counseling. It’s hoped the app will bring services to those who might not be ready or able to seek in-person supports.

“We want all of our members to have access to services,” she said.

By Megan Terepocki