- The artwork is being displayed on a construction site in the West End of London throughout Mental Health Awareness Week
- The stunt has been organised by IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect to ‘give mental health higher visibility’ in the trade industry
- On average, 687 UK tradespeople die by suicide every year; almost two a day
A giant piece of artwork made up of 687 high-vis vests has been displayed on a construction site in the West End of London to represent the annual number of trade suicides in the UK.
The mural has been created for Mental Health Awareness Week (15th-21st May) by IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect to visualise the scale of the issue within the industry, and ‘give mental health higher visibility’.
Throughout the week, the banner is being displayed at the Galliford Try construction site on Goslett Yard, just off Charing Cross London, in the heart of the West End.
Tragically, an average of 687 skilled trade workers died by suicide each year between 2019-2021, according to the latest government data. This equates to 13 a week, or almost two a day, on average.
In 2021, tradespeople accounted for 15% of suicides across all industries, which is more than any other occupation. In fact, construction workers are nearly four times as likely to die by suicide than some other sectors.
The 687 high-vis vests, symbolising each of these individuals, have been stitched together into one 12-metre-tall garment by J&C Joel, one of the world’s leading fabric manufacturers.
The display was unveiled alongside IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect’s annual Mental Health in the Trades report, which found that more than four in five (84%) UK tradespeople experience mental health problems due to work-related issues.
As part of the campaign, the Essex-based companies have once again partnered with the mental health charity, Basildon Mind, and are donating over £5,000 to support its crucial services.
Emma Mamo, Head of Workspace Wellbeing at Mind, said: “In male-dominated industries such as construction, employees are often less willing and able to open up about their mental health and ask for support. This can be problematic because mental health problems often become worse if left untreated, and the consequences can be fatal.
“We urge employers to create cultures where employees can speak openly and honestly about their mental health.”
After finding that 84% of tradespeople don’t feel comfortable talking about their mental health, IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect spoke to tradespeople who were willing to share their stories, with the aim of encouraging others to do the same.
Rebecca Bishop, co-founder at Elite Building, talked about her experiences, and shared a positive message for those who can relate.
“I experience burnout regularly, but it started getting serious in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic. I remember asking my husband if it was possible to die from stress as I was genuinely concerned.
“I have often tried to survive it and make it to the other side. Sometimes I share vulnerably on social media about mental health, but I also put pressure on myself to always keep it together – which is ridiculous, because I am human and this is not possible.
“Tradespeople need to understand that they are never alone. Things don’t have to stay the way they are. We just need some brave people to step up and be vulnerable and share, which then might encourage others to share as well.”
Dominick Sandford, Managing Director at IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect, said: “We hope that this artwork serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating impact of mental health issues within the trades industry.
“By bringing this issue to the forefront of people’s minds, we hope to encourage more open conversations around mental health and continue our efforts to support those who may be struggling.”
For more information about the stunt, visit: https://www.ironmongerydirect.co.uk/blog/putting-mental-health-in-high-visibility
To read IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect’s Mental Health in the Trades: 2023 Report, visit: https://www.ironmongerydirect.co.uk/research/mental-health-in-the-trades/
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