In the popular imagination, tradies embody the nation of rugged Aussie individualism.
We think of sturdy men and women, on the tools for long hours, self-contained and resilient, paint-smeared radio blasting music, with a couple of coldies in the fridge for knock-off.
Statistics, however, paint a different picture.
Tradespeople, along with other construction workers, are twice as likely than their peers to die by suicide. They also have twice the rates of anxiety and depression.
On a worksite, if you have to life something heavy, you ask for help. For many tradies, however, the same logic doesn’t apply when the load that needs lifting is emotional. As a cohort, they are much less likely than the rest of us to seek help early.
To tackle this issue, North Western Primary Health Network has created a tradie-specific mental health campaign, called ‘Lighten the Load’.
The campaign links to the HeadtoHelp service- a network of mental healthcare providers across Victoria that aims to complement and supplement GP care- to provide tradies with the support they need.
The Lighten the Load campaign targets construction industry workers in our region and asks them to seek help early. The campaign also speaks to their mates and families, so that they can find out how to help the tradies they care about.
Carpenters, tilers, bricklayers, welders, plumbers and others in the building game know all too well that the image of the cheerful chippy or contented sparky is often a long way from reality.
Many tradies are self-employed – sole traders as well as onsite workers. They support families, pay rent or mortgages, and meet other day-to-day demands. Cashflow is erratic, sometimes meagre, and the hours are very long.
Perhaps, too, they have a couple of employees, including an apprentice. They are responsible for training, for welfare and for safety- huge mental and financial burdens when money’s too tight to mention and the kids need to go to the dentist again.
On top of this, sole-traders and their families often don’t have access to the support that medium and large businesses, unique or trade organisations can provide. And many tradies have faced increased pressure due to the pandemic, which has limited access and hours.
No wonder so many are having a hard time!
HeadtoHelp is a free, 100 percent confidential service, with staff trained to support tradies, their families, and their mates.
All you need to do is make a free call to 1800 595 212. You’ll talk to a professional, who’ll listen carefully to understand what’s going on, and give you advice or connect you the support and counselling you need.
1800 595 212 (free call)
8.30am – 5 pm weekdays (excluding public holidays)
Call 000 in an emergency.
This article was published in Midland Express on 14 September, 2021.