Tradie’s bright idea helping blokes speak about mental health
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 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 Allen 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 people,” 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 mental health professionals; created by the two founders.
Designed to remove the physical and financial barriers preventing people from reaching out for 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 mental health support for tradies, truckies, and blue-collar workers as well as those in rural and remote communities,” 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 Allen says. “But you know, when you meet people who we’ve been able to directly reach and help, I know full well that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.”
- Amy Marine
TIACS offers a free text or call service
Mon-Fri 8am-10pm AEST
0488 846 988
The success of the brand is highly attributable to Dan and Ed's drive for hard work and larrikin personalities. They have built this brand from the ground up, something that as chippys they are very familar with doing.
Not only has their background as tradies helped in a practical sense, but leaning into their blue-collar roots has also been one of the major reasons that they have been able to build and gain the trust of the community that they have.
Both Dan and Ed agree that it is this relatability and unwillingness to become another corporate advocacy brand that is what sets TradeMutt apart.