The suicide rate amongst young tradesmen is more than double that of other men and it is getting worse. Daniel Allen and Edward Ross founded TradeMutt when Daniel lost a close friend to suicide in 2015. TradeMutt is an innovative social impact workwear brand designed to start conversations about mental health with eye-catching colourful shirt designs.
They created the concept ‘Funky Shirt Friday’ to give tradies a reason to wear their shirt’s to work, similar to what office workers do on casual work Fridays. TradeMutt designs are bold and striking, they’re colourful and they’re real conversation starters. The designs are being worn by iconic companies like BHP, Rio Tinto, the Brisbane City Council and Queensland Rail.
How is TradeMutt pioneering the fight against suicide?
50% of TradeMutt’s profits are donated to TIACS, which stands for This Is A Conversation Starter. TIACS is a free and confidential chat, text and callback service providing intervention mental health support for truckies, blue-collar workers and those who care about them.
“Tradies struggle with mental health because there is a lot of pressure placed on them to work hard for long hours and perform physically demanding jobs often in harsh weather conditions. With a continual poor work/life balance, men start to feel burnt out and disconnected from friends, families and themselves,” TradeMutt co-founder Edward Ross said.
“On top of this, they are also feeling the pressure of the follow-on effects of COVID-19 and all the issues that are impacting the building and construction industry such as supply chain issues, rising inflation and interest rates, and a labour shortage which is sending wages through the roof. Things are really tough for tradies at the moment. Blokes have a bit of a reputation for not talking about their problems but we are changing that,” Ross said.
“We are losing so many men due to them not speaking up and getting the support they deserve. The more people that know about TradeMutt and TIACS the better. We help on two levels, we get tradies talking to each other by wearing our funky shirts which starts a conversation, and then we include the details for TIACS on every shirt through a QR code so tradies can call for a confidential chat if they need someone to talk to, free and ongoing.”
“We are saving tradies’ lives, one shirt at a time, and it is working. The feedback has been phenomenal and TIACS is continually reporting higher call rates which is really encouraging.”
Why suicide is a big challenge that requires intervention
Keri Stephenson, CEO of TIACS, said it is very concerning that those who work in trades and construction have some of the highest suicide rates in Australia amongst men. “Construction workers are at least six times more likely to die by suicide than by a workplace accident.”
“In Australia, every year, we lose 190 construction workers to suicide. We have to do more to support our tradies in Australia. To date, through the support of our partnerships with businesses such as TradeMutt, as a privately funded not-for-profit firm we have supported over 12,000 clients, translating to over 10,000 hours of counselling and an incredible $2.15M worth of market services delivered to the Australian Blue collar community free of charge.”
“Funky Shirt Fridays is a ritual that happens every week, no matter what. Just like casual Fridays at the office, we encourage tradies to wear a TradeMutt shirt on Fridays, and every other day if they want. It’s a great way to turn the best day of the work week into the one day of the week where tradies can take ownership of their mental health and encourage meaningful conversations with those around them,” Edward Ross further commented.
“Initiatives like Funky Shirt Fridays were put in place to help men break the ice and just walk up to a workmate and use these crazy design shirts as an icebreaker to get a conversation going about any pressure they might be feeling at work or home. Just by wearing a TradeMutt shirt and inviting a conversation to start, you could be helping to save a life.”
TradeMutt has a huge range of workwear clothes for both men and women. They carry hi-vis workwear and polos, and even casual clothes and accessories, underwear and footwear. To date, TradeMutt has helped over 3,000 tradies to gain access to free mental health support through TIACS and they have given more than $650,000 in mental health support to tradies.