A construction worker is lost to suicide every second day, according to figures from the University of Melbourne and Deakin University. Now a workwear label is doing something to break the barriers when it comes to this industry opening up about mental health.
The death of a mate inspired two Aussie tradies to do something about the rate of suicide among male tradies, who are twice as likely to die by suicide than any other occupation.
“Back in 2015, Ed Ross was my apprentice and he was my support during that time. We started to explore the idea of funky workwear and using profit for purpose,” Daniel Allen says.
The tradies-turned-entrepreneurs launched TradeMutt, a label featuring brightly coloured ‘funky’ workwear designed to stand out on construction sites and spark conversations about mental health.
“The funky work shirts are a way to start conversations about mental health and take a bit more of a fun and lighthearted approach to getting the conversation started, just in an effort to, I suppose, chill the topic out a little bit,” Mr Allan says. “The idea is we make an invisible issue impossible to ignore.”
Mr Ross says the ‘rough and tumble’ stereotype of blue collar workers still exists today.
“It’s hard hands, hard heads, and sometimes, not a great deal of emotional intelligence. And to a degree, that culture still affects these blokes,” he says. “But it’s changing. And I honestly believe we’re contributing towards that change within the industry, so it’s been pretty cool.”
Operating as a social enterprise model, a percentage of every sale contributes towards a not-for-profit mental health support service This Is A Conversation Starter (TIACS). It’s a free text and call service operated by trained psychologists created and funded by TradeMutt.
Designed to remove the physical and financial barriers preventing people from reaching out for professional help when they need it, accessing help from TIACS does not require a Mental Health Plan from a GP.
“TIACS provides free and unlimited access to professional mental health support for tradies, truckies, blue-collar workers in a rural and remote community,” Mr Ross says. “The charity side of the business was never the plan, but it’s a huge achievement for us and it’s something we’re really proud of.”
When it comes to fulfilling orders, TradeMutt ‘packs with purpose’ via their partnership with SendAble, a social enterprise logistics company providing long-term employment opportunities and skills for people with disabilities.
“I pinch myself daily, I shake my head and think, ‘What the f**k am I doing here? How did this happen?’” Mr Allan says. “But you know, when you meet blokes who we’ve been able to directly reach and help, I know full well that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.”
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE
If you or someone you know needs assistance:
- TIACS - 0488 846 988 (M-F 9am - 5pm AEST)