ELOISE LE GROS
Australian tradies have the opportunity to turn the stigma surrounding men’s mental health on its head during ‘Tradies National Heath Month‘ throughout August 2016.
The men’s awareness month, created by Australian Physiotherapy Association, seeks to promote not only physical but also mental health support for tradies.
Suicide is the number one killer for Australian men, with males three to four times more likely to die from suicide than Australian females.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in Queensland alone, 490 males died of suicide compared to 158 females in 2014.
The ABS also reported 20% of Australians suffer from a mental health illness every year, however only one in four Australian men will seek professional help due to stigma surrounding these diseases.
CEO of Mates In Construction, Jorgen Gullestrup, notes how common it is for men to not ask for help and telling them to do so can often be a set-up for failure.
“What [our organisation] has found to be more effective is for men to take notice of their mates by looking out for them,” he said.
“If you think a friend might be suffering, simply asking them if they are okay can be the best thing you can do to help.”
The stigma surrounding mental health issues and suicides in males, particularly in the trades industries, is something that can have flow-on effect to family and friends, right through to clinicians and colleagues who may experience grief and conflicted emotional distress in response.
John Henderson, Union Delegate for Hutchinson Builders, believes mental health in the Trades Industries is a serious issue.
A spokesperson from the Black Dog Institute said many Australian men feel a ‘self-stigma’ around mental illness, internalising the pressure to suppress their problems.
“Many men still feel that mental illness is a sign of weakness and are therefore less likely to reach out for help, such as speaking to their GP, and are more likely to self medicate using drugs and alcohol than women [with a mental illness],” she said.
“[From our research] men felt most comfortable talking about these issues when sitting side to side, such as when driving, instead of face-to-face, such as GP visits.”
“We’ve also found that men tend to use vague language such as ‘I’m not feeling so great’ in which their doctor may misunderstand for a physical complaint and, for example, send them for blood tests compared to women who might actually state that they are feeling depressed or feeling anxious.”
The ‘Tradies National Health Month’ campaign runs throughout August and Mates In Construction offers a 24 hour seven day helpline for those in the building and construction industries who need support for mental health issues.
If you need someone to talk to, please call:
Men’s Line Australia 1300 78 99 78
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
1800 HOLDON (1800 465 366)