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Mental health is highly problematic for males in Australia - the suicide rate for males is currently three times greater than for females. In the construction industry, these figures are made even worse, where the suicide among construction workers (a trade almost exclusively made up of males) aged 15 to 24 is more than twice as high as other young males.

These statistics are frightening, which is why Skills Certified demonstrates some new initiatives that are steadily gaining traction to ensure that mental health is better recognised in the trades industry.

Recognition of mental health in trades

Jeremy Forbes, a tradie himself, assisted in the formation of Hope Assistance Local Tradies (HALT) after one of his fellow tradies committed suicide. It came as a shock to Jeremy after his friend appeared completely normal – even joking around and seeming more outgoing than he’d ever been before.

HALT is an initiative designed to let tradies know that they are valued in an industry plagued with mental illness that goes unchecked due to stigma. Jeremy in his discussions with tradies found that finances and relationships were key contributing factors towards mental illness and potential suicide and has made these a focus for HALT.

Turning a new leaf

It is evident, thankfully, that this significant issue is slowly being more recognised in Australia. It is most easily demonstrated through the development of several interesting initiatives. MATES in Construction is a charity partner organisation endorsed by Skills Certified and owned and controlled by the Australian Building and Construction Industry. MATES in Construction was developed in 2008 with the specific purpose of reducing the suicide rate among those in the Australian construction industry.

Similarly, initiative Books4Tradies combats one of the chief contributors of suicide amongst tradies –cashflow and insolvency. Not having funds, particularly during work fluctuation, can lead to significant stress, and not having relief can cause a huge strain on mental health.

Experiencing more stress than usual?

Because mental illness is so common for tradies, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge the issues that face workers. If you, or someone you know, are feeling more down than usual due to undue stresses in your life, it’s important to reach out and talk to someone about it.

BeyondBlue is an excellent organisation providing support for anxiety and depression for those who need it the most. Don’t wait any longer - contact BeyondBlue today at 1300 22 4636.

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