For the most part, men are expected to be strong, tough, stoic and overall, unemotional.
This is especially the case for most blokes working in trades and construction.
For a physically demanding job, its normal for tradies to keep in shape and discuss their physical health and fitness.
However, mental health is still not a common subject talked about on smoko or at knock off drinks. Showing emotions, crying and talking about mental struggles are not part of the tradie culture traditionally.
Looking after your mental health in conjunction with your emotional and physical health is a key component to doing your job well and enjoying life outside of work.
It’s time to add this emotional muscle to the tradie toolbox.
Unfortunately, there is still an entrenched masculine tradie culture that makes it difficult for men to speak out about their mental health.
The “you’ll be right mate” mentality and fear of being judged or seen as weak means that men are remaining silent about their issues. This toxic culture that emphasises self-reliance is largely responsible for tradies’ poor mental health.
And it’s why tradies who come to see us, often only do so once shit has hit the fan.
Some alarming stats:
· Tradies/construction workers and ‘blue collar’ careers, have some of the highest suicide rate in Australia amongst men.
· Construction workers are at least six times more likely to die by suicide than on workplace accidents.
· 190 construction workers die by suicide each year in Australia.
Why would tradies struggle with mental health?
There is a lot of pressure placed on tradies to work hard. Long hours, physically demanding tasks in often unforgiving weather conditions can leave men feeling burnt out and disconnected from friends, family and themselves. Thus, resulting in a poor work/life balance.
Ignoring and not dealing with mental health issues can manifest itself in gambling, domestic violence, alcohol, drugs, excessive pornography, relationship/family breakdowns and bad financial choices.
Eventually, ‘sucking it up’ and remaining silent can lead men to become anxious, depressed, angry and even suicidal.
What you can do if you’re struggling:
Talk to someone:
This is easier said than done. Whether it be one of your work mates or a trusted partner or friend or even a professional, it’s essential to get it off your chest and not bottle up your issues, worries and concerns.
If you notice a mate a work who might be struggling, find the time to have that difficult conversation with them about how they’re feeling and if everything is ok. Be part of the conversation around mental health and smashing the stigma that exists within the trade workplace.
We need to change this culture that exists within this industry!
Knowledge is power. Being aware of mental health conditions, warning signs, symptoms and available support services can be extremely beneficial, for you and your work mates.
Reduce your workload/ take time off:
It might be time to address your struggles with your boss. Perhaps taking a break from work to re-evaluate your situation and what you can do moving forward to assist your mental health and wellbeing. We acknowledge this may be extremely difficult, depending on the culture of your workplace and how supportive and receptive they are.
Seek professional health:
Don’t wait until you hit ‘rock bottom’ to reach out for professional support.
There are various organisations out there that can assist tradies who are struggling with mental health issues and are great preventative measures.
Early intervention – getting help/support early, is the best thing you can do.
If you’re unsure how to go about this, a conversation with your GP is a great place to start. Hopefully they can direct you to the best service locally who can provide support and counselling specifically for men.
Regardless of where you’re based, you can always reach out to Blokes Psychology too and we’d also be happy to refer you to a local service who can assist you. Whilst they can be hard to find, there’s often services in most states whom specialise in mens mental health.
Mens Line Australia – 1300 78 99 78
Mates in Construction – 1300 642 111
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636
HALT (Hope Assistance Local Tradies)– https://thehaltbrekky.com/
Incolink Blue Hats Suicide Prevention Initiative - https://www.incolink.org.au/wellbeing-support-services/bluehats-suicide-prevention/
Mates in Construction - http://matesinconstruction.org.au/vic/