Mental Health for Tradies & Small Businesses

Silhouette of two men jogging outside as the sun goes down.

Did you know… this October 10th is World Mental Health Day

In this industry, we hear a LOT about health and safety. But what about mental health? 🤔

Since many of our customers are tradies and small business owners, we wanted to take this chance to talk about how mental health is impacting this group of people — and what we can do about it.

So, we reached out to a good mate who has a fair bit of personal experience in this space to hear his story.Wesley and Tudor Vasile from Trusted Pest Management.

Alongside his brother, Wesley, Tudor Vasile owns pest control company, Trusted Pest Management, servicing residential and commercial clients throughout Brisbane and Sydney. But outside of the day job, he spends a good portion of his time advocating for mental health issues through one of their charities, Mental Awareness Foundation.

“Just over 12 years ago, we had two very good friends who sadly took their lives within about 3 months of one another,” said Tudor.

“Back then, no one was talking about mental health or sharing their experiences, so my brother and I set up a mental health charity in Queensland to help make it less of a taboo topic.”

Walk for Awareness

The foundation soon kicked off an annual event, Walk for Awareness. Each year, people come together in Captain Burke Park in Brisbane to walk 9kms around the Brisbane River, while shedding light on mental health issues, breaking the stigma, and getting the conversation started. Plus, it raises money to support other mental health initiatives. 

“We had 110 people on the first walk and grew to 3,500 just before COVID hit, raising $300K in a single morning,” said Tudor.“We give a lot of exposure and funding to an organisation called Mates in Construction that specialises in setting up mental health programs for tradies. They’ve done wonders in helping men understand their emotions, communicate with one another, access support networks, and get connected programs onsite.”

Why Mental Health is Tougher on Tradies

The stats don’t lie. Trade industries are overwhelmingly male, and (unfortunately), so are deaths by suicide. ABS data for 2020 shows that 75% of suicides were male, with a median age at death of 43.6 years.

Tragically, we lose an estimated 190 construction workers to suicide every year in Australia, compared to around 30 lives lost to construction workplace accidents. This means that mental health issues are 6 times more likely to lead to death within the construction industry. 

“Men have a very much ‘she’ll be right mate’, ‘toughen up’, ‘don’t winge’ type attitude that is still prevalent today, especially in the construction industry,” shared Tudor.

Why Small Business Owners are StrugglingA man holds up notebooks with a frustrated look on his face.

Mental health is especially tough for many small business owners in the current environment, too. 

“The amount of trauma that COVID has caused with isolation, people losing jobs, and the fear or anxiety of what’s around the corner — it has triggered numbers beyond belief,” Tudor shared.

“Running a small business is hard because you’re often alone and you don’t have those support networks. When staff walk out, you’re still expected to deliver even if it means working 20 hours per day.”

“At the same time, it’s really hard for business owners to work on their mental health because they’re so stuck in the trenches, trying to get their business up and running — and unfortunately, many just don’t have time.”

Tudor shared that business owners really need to be able to take some time to step back, chill out, and figure out what’s causing them massive amounts of anxiety, but it’s easier said than done. When business owners aren’t feeling good and need to relax, they often turn to alcohol and drugs.

“Instead of turning to the bottle, try to step back, go for a walk, exercise, meditate, reflect on your emotions, and talk about it.”

Staying on Top of Mental Health
Paper and pen with checkboxes next to the words ‘balance’ and ‘burnout’.

As small business owners, Tudor and his brother have learned how to manage their own mental health over time, while providing support to their team. 

“My brother, Wes, has been fantastic at championing these initiatives within the company,” said Tudor.

“He makes a point to regularly catch up with the staff one-on-one to talk about life, health, and goals. We also do quarterly team socials where we down tools, take a walk, go golfing, or have breakfast as a team.”

“But it took us 10 years to get to that point. The first couple of years was grinding the pavement, working 7 day a week, and I can remember being so busy that the only way I could relax was to smash a bottle of wine on Saturday night.”

“Sometimes you’ve got to go through that to realise it’s not a productive way to manage yourself.”

These days, Tudor manages differently. Along with regular exercise and avoiding alcohol, he’s been trying to meditate daily and managing it at least every second day.

“Exercise is my winning formula — as much as we hate getting up and going to the gym every morning, it’s a proven strategy.”

Get Involved in Walk for Awareness & Mental Awareness Walk for Awareness finish line

Sunday October 9, Walk for Awareness is the official opening event for Queensland Mental Health Week. If you’d like to get involved and join the walk in Kangaroo Park, head to the Walk for Awareness website to find out more. You can also get involved online by donating or by posting to the online dedication wall.

You can also check out the Mental Awareness Foundation website to find out more about what they’re doing, or to contact Tudor and the team if you’d like to get involved.

How Can You Take Action on Mental Health?

This World Mental Health Day, we want to encourage you to take action on mental health — whether supporting your own, your peers’, or spreading awareness.

If you’ve been struggling lately, reach out to a friend or head to any of the resources linked below:

Or be that person who brings up mental health in your workplace — it’s a simple act that can make a real difference for your mates and your community!

– Rory Crundall, Managing Director

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