Reason about Mental Health Illness in construction in the Middle East !!

Disclaimer: The Following is bases on personal opinion and it has nothing to do based on scientific or research paper”

Today, when I check my podcast and checked the episode of mental health in Civil Engineering and Construction. I remembered a story of a friend who went to a break down eight years back. He was really depressed while he was working on site. I have another friend who was really depression while others went to therapy. I personally suffered from severe depression in 2016 while I was in site while I was studying for my master degree. Especially millennial or gen Z who entered construction start to talk about between each other but not in public. I have many of my friends who are in construction who spoke about it at least but why?

In my opinion, there are many reasons and I want to explain

  1. Many of us choose an Engineering major by force or there was no option. I know some of my friends entered the major because their parent told them to do or they have a family business so their job is secure when they will graduate. Neither our parents nor us know better about that period. I personally was not planned to be civil engineering at the beginning !! Yes, even me. I actually was planning to be a computer engineer, but I have a cousin who studied computer engineering abroad and didn’t find any job for two years. I can’t blame him because it was 2001 when he graduated. This major was really new in the middle east and everyone thinks of computer engineering as an IT help desk at that time, so I dropped the idea and went to chemical engineering because I want to go to the petroleum sector. then after I took a couple of chemistry courses, I discovered it was not my cup of tea and I changed to civil engineering because it was the golden era in construction in 2007 and I choose this major based on money-driven rather than passion-driven. Yes, this was me !!! However, I love it when I started taking Civil Engineering courses. Others got really to choose the major because their parent forces them. This will become a toll on them especially if they choose a major that they don’t like. It might just get the parent proud but the students are really suffering.
  2. Engineering majors are hard and graduating from an engineering major means that finding the hidden treasure. I remember sitting in the library for the night finishing my project and to seek a “GPA” which I discovered is not important after I graduated. Besides, my parent paid a lot for college, so I took all on myself and start blaming myself for that every time my parents paid me for my undergraduates’ tuition. This hits me so hard when I started working in the field and notice how low your salary is. We should not even forget a student who took loans to complete their studies then they surprised with the market condition with a great dept they have to pay it maybe in ten years or more.
  3. After we graduate and we see the real situation in life and we start taking the “life 101” course, we faced how high our ambitions were then how devastated the market is. I know !!! I woked free at the beginning of my career with a contractor just to get experience. When I started working in a large consulting firm, I saw things that I discover in the real-life course. I saw some of my colleagues were we studied together and have a lower GPA than mine either joined the firms with a higher salary or in a better position because he has some sort of connections. I start questioning myself … why? This is unfair. I went to a depression state and took it all on myself. when I asked other friends, they have the same issue as me. they were really devastated because of the market conditions. Some of them went to a therapist. we haven’t prepared and we are really shocked because of that!! we have studied and we went to top-ranking universities. we studied hard, cost out parent a ton of money and in the end no one care. We saw people who studied in very low/ affordable universities and the end, they have even better jobs than us because of the connection!!! This was unbelievable. We don’t forget the construction where it is so hard in long-lasting hours. Due to the tie schedule and limited budgets, contractors/consultants tried to put the minimum number of people in the order to maximize the profit by lowering the operation cost. Accordingly, Entry — medium engineers get really stressed because they are taking more responsibilities at a low cost.
  4. Sometimes we don’t accept reality and without any clear goals or planning, we see what others do and follow them. This was me when I started enrolling to do my master while I was working full time. I remember I used to supervise a concrete pouring the whole night while I was an exam the next day morning. I used to study while I was working, so I was devastated and went to severe depression. Luckily, I was able to catch up despite a one-semester delayed to finished my master thesis. At the end of the programs, I hate the whole programs and I just want to finish it. After I finished my final grades. I said, no more study for me and I am done chasing an extra educational career. When I got the certificate, I was happy for maybe a week or two then I was normal! Again I felt empty after a month or two when I checked the goals and it was just a piece of paper for me. To this day, I am blaming myself because I used to have other plans but I choose rather go for a master degree. I am blaming myself by saying “what if?” despite I know this is wrong. I don’t blame myself because I paid a ton of money and worked very hard to get that degree, so this emotion is nature. when I checked my friends who are engineers, many of them have the same feeling. I know one was cussing and regretting the moment he enrolled to be an engineer.

According to the above, we see many engineers, we see many of them go to severe depression and they never talked about in the about due to fears. In outing and between us, we talked about our bad feeling, but we never speak publicly. Here are some tips according to my opinion it should be done.

  1. Have a career advisor or mentor from school. The earlier the kid have contact with a career advisor or mentor, the better he/she knows what to choose. When I said a career advisor, I don’t mean by “ How to do an interview or CV stuff “. I mean by someone who sits with the kids to know his/her soft skills and what to love and how it can be transferred to a career he/she likes. Khaled Abu Jebain from the “Hope it helps” podcast has a great episode with an expert in career education where she doesn’t work only with kids but also with the parents. I will put the link at the bottom.
  2. The second point is about is to take a break. a wise man told me in one of the episodes that taking it is ok to take a break after high school graduation. Most of my relatives took a break after high school graduation which gave them time to rethink their option. Now they are doing better. I know our parent wants us to go to university immediately to study and graduate as soon as possible. I know some of the cases, a talk especially with Middle Eastern or Arab Parent is hard but try your best. Besides, try to find a mentor !! you don’t have to meet him directly. Many people can help you through mentoring !! Now you have a good tool!! it is the internet!! start checking with motivation and inspirational people. you can check with many people like Tony Robbins, Robin Sharma, Jay Shetty, Gary Vee and many other People. There are even many even in engineering who can be a great mentor such as Antony Fasano from the Engineering Management Institute. Try to check with them through LinkedIn, and other social media. Trust me, people can help by a small advise or tips. However, you have to be short and concise because they are also busy and they are trying their best to help people.
  3. Try different things in your life even after your high school graduate. I know it is hard to find part-time jobs these days because of the pandemic but try to do out best. Check if you can network online !! Yes, you can start to check online networking. Have LinkedIn and other social media. Don’t start throwing your CV to everyone immediately. Start having a good talk with people such as meaningful topics. Then you might find something. In 2005, I found a part-time in video game shops through networking. Yes !! I worked for paid part-time jobs for two months when it was uncommon to work part-time jobs in that period. I worked an extra part-time after that then I stopped working those jobs. I don’t know why and I wish if I continued to work on them again. You might find something you love there and continue with it.
  4. Check what you want really to do !! what should I do to serve this goal or do the things I love. It might be the craziest thing in your life and you think No one is working this job. I believe there is a job title for every activity in life. We just don’t know. Check whether to reach this passion what I want to do. Shall I check with an expert, mentor or Should I get some experience, certification, a course or a degree? Remember, University is an option and not a mandatory thing to reach your goals.
  5. If you decide to choose a major and went to college, go with the most flexible affordable university you feel comfortable with. Whether you are an MIT graduate or a community college, it is the same when you go to work in the field. Besides, Try to get a part-time job while you are studying even if it is taking you a long time to graduation. I saw some of my friend who was working inside the campus as a full time while they were studying part-time but they finished in a longer period. However, they got an experience that helped them to know where they want in their career while they paid for their tuition by themself. Remember, it is not the degree, it is what you can do with your skill in your life. If this major is not capable for you or you are not happy. Either take a break or change the major. It is never been late.
  6. Even after you graduate and you see yourself unemployed or don’t like your job. check what is the plan. maybe you need to take a course to improve yourself or even you want to change your career. don’t worry about your certificate. I know it is hard to study for 4 years but you seem it nothing to do with it. consider it as an opportunity to grow and a lesson learned. Remember, it is never been too late to do what you love.

Remember to go and check with a therapist for your mental approach also. I don’t want to keep it so long because it is taking a lot of time for me to write. There might be additional or other opinions but this is my personal opinion.

Civil Engineering Vibes Podcast — Various Episodes

Hope It helps — Episode 45

Civil Engineer and Host of the Civil Engineering Vibes podcast