The 16th of April 2020 will forever be a momentous day for me, Ed and the combined TradeMutt and TIACS team. It marks the day that one of the psychologists from TIACS Foundation provided support to a young tradie who had no one else to turn to after experiencing tragedy.
We have now got our first official runs on the board as a professional mental health service. GET AROUND IT!!
We must learn to crawl before we can walk, so this our soft launch, or beta testing phase.
Truth be told, there is a huge road that lies ahead, and wholeheartedly understand the magnitude of what we are trying to achieve here. But internally, it’s important to stop and realise that we have achieved a huge milestone.
From the outset, our goal was to change the face of mental health in Australia forever. With the understanding that there is a complete lack of understanding and misconception about what mental health means, Ed and I believed that we were the two blokes for the task.
We needed to make mental health relatable and approachable for the everyday person, and we needed to drive a much needed social and cultural shift in the way everyday Australians, particularly blokes, perceive mental health. Basically, we needed to chill it right out and take the edge of what has always been a poorly marketed affliction.
TradeMutt has had a pretty good crack at that – removing the social barriers that have always prevented peer to peer conversation about the topic. By removing these social barriers, the idea is that we significantly improve help-seeking behaviour. So, we’ve started a conversation, what next? Who do I talk to?
Well, unfortunately, telling a tradie between the ages of 14 – 44 to go and make an appointment with the GP, fess up about feeling/emotions, make an appointment with a mental health professional who you’ve never met and then start working through things – well it’s a fairly long shot. We let ego, shame and the fear of being humiliated get in the way. These are the reasons that we choose to say guarded and closed up.
Aside from the fact that this whole process of actually getting in to see someone takes weeks if not months, a working professional would most likely have to take time off work to get to these appointments.
I know when I did it, all of this was too much. It was easier to suffer than to have to tell the boss I needed the afternoon or the day off to go and ‘see someone’. That’s why I didn’t turn up to the first three appointments with the GP. Lucky I wasn’t suicidal.
This is where TIACS comes in – A not for profit charity that removes the physical and financial barriers to anyone being able to access a mental health professional, at the push of a button. Whether you’re sitting on your esky at smoko, sitting in the dunny at work, or lying in bed at night, don’t let it get any harder, flick a text to This Is A Conversation Starter. We believe everyone in Australia should have free access to trained mental health professionals, 24/7 and a service like this should not be an exercise in turning over a profit.
We are not there yet, but we are well on our way. The North Star is in sight and we have built an incredible team around us who all share the same vision and have the same passion and hunger to make this a reality. It’s been an awesome journey and it’s worth sharing these 6 key thoughts:
- The trust was built – For the young man who first accessed TIACS, he made it perfectly clear to our staff that he already trusted both TradeMutt and TIACS. He felt as though he knew both Ed and me which made his capacity to seek help far easier. That was the goal from the outset.
- It’s all worth it for one person - Only we and those closest to us know just how much work has gone into getting to this point. The challenges, the financial hardships, the second-guessing. The late nights, the weekends and the travel. To know that there is one person out there now who felt comfortable to turn to us when he had no one else…No words can describe that.
- Respect for health care workers – Now more than ever, respect for essential services and health care workers is unprecedented. These men and women are fulfilling a selfless vocation where they know they are making a positive impact by providing care to the vulnerable and saving Knowing they need do those jobs in the face of a very real threat to their own lives and their own loved ones takes a heart the size of Phar Laps.
- There are real people at the helm – Speaking of a heart the size of Phar Laps, when Ed and I met Marc Ahmelman, we knew he was the right man to run TIACS. He didn’t know it at the time, but we had him earmarked for the role from day dot. In fact, when push came to shove, we didn’t really give him much choice. He has an incredible story in his own right and to his credit, even did his time as a young buck bricklayer so you know he is the real deal. Together, what he and his tiny team have achieved has been done so by real people.
- Big Tonka – Speaking of real people at the helm with a heart the size of Phar Lap, there is one man who, without his efforts, none of this would be possible. Tonka Toholke raised more money than anyone in the history of the My Isa Rodeo Queens Quest and chose TIACS as the beneficiary. We could write an entire article on this bloke, and, in fact, we will be. But for now, one man who turned his life around and continues to fight the good fight deserves to be pat on the back until the palm of your hand turns pink.
- There’s still so much work to do – What we have achieved is just a drop in the ocean. Myself and Ed’s goal is to grow TradeMutt to a size where we can sustain TIACS through our contribution from shirt sales. However, we’re not there yet. Like everyone who’s plans for 2020 have been thrown into chaos, we too have said goodbye to at least $80k in projected fundraising through events. This would have nearly covered the costs of another full time psychologist. So, if you have the capacity or a considering donating to any charitable organisations, consider TIACS. Our small operation can make a huge difference which sees funds funnelled directly into support rather than lost in administration and marketing. At a time where it’s not possible to shout a mate a couple of beers, for the price of two schooners a month ($15), you could shout a mate an hour with a mental health professional through TIACS here.
She’s been a huge slog and we are proud to celebrate about our achievements. We are collectively excited for the road ahead and are more than ready for the grind. We take our own mental health very seriously and along with practising self-care, our team bond means that we can confide in each other about anything and everything. That dynamic is what is most important to us, and as long as we maintain that attitude, we will always be ready to answer the call of anyone who needs it.
Just want to say that you guys are awesome and the work you are doing is world leading.
I have been wearing your shirts and have to say that they definitely get the conversation started. Everyone I come into contact with ask me about the shirt and I gladly tell them the story behind them. I have dealt with grief from suicidal couple of times with family members and know the struggles that come with that.
Much love to you and your team