Tools Down aims to halve tradie suicides

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A new mental health awareness platform has launched to raise awareness of mental ill health and the suicide rate among Kiwi tradies.

Tools Down was started by Mike Taylor and Ryan Edwards, thanks to a $50,000 AIA Vitality Business and Community Grant, to shed a light on the little-talked-about topic in the industry.

Edwards has seen many tradies struggling with mental ill health, and has worked with many to help alleviate financial and work pressures.

“The last decade has seen more than 300 tradies take their own life. This a devastating number, and that’s why we’ve made it our mission to halve the number of suicides and serious injuries and harm experienced by tradies each year, by 2025.”

Taylor recognises this is a hefty goal, but is determined to achieve it.

“I’m a big believer in setting big, aggressive goals. By aiming to make a considerable impact, even if you fall slightly short, we’re still closer than if we set a smaller target,” he says.

“Our hope is that by educating people about the help and support available out there, it can encourage people to take control of their well-being.

Edwards says there are specific struggles a tradie faces which can take an overwhelming toll on mental health.

“We know this situation is not unique to the trade sector. People all across the country struggle with mental ill health every day.

“However, many tradies don’t go into the profession to run their own businesses, and can find it difficult to handle and talk about the challenges they face.

“You may wake up one morning and find your ute broken into and all your tools stolen, or suffer a work injury that takes you off the tools.

“How do you deal with those lost assets and time on top of everything else? It can be the tipping point for some tradies.

“Through Tools Down, people have approached us to discuss their hardships and need for valuable resources to coach them through times of stress. This is exactly what Tools Down is for, and we’re glad people are using it.”

Tools Down was launched with an online social media and radio campaign, achieving more than 180,000 impressions online.

Edwards and Taylor founded Tools Down with support from AIA Vitality’s $50,000 Business and Community Grant programme.

“Without the support of AIA Vitality, we wouldn’t have been able to get this platform off the ground,” Edwards says.

“Like us, AIA Vitality is committed to helping Kiwis live healthier, longer, better lives with well-being at the heart of what they do. So it was a wonderful partnership for us full of shared values.

“If you are struggling, reaching out is totally okay, and there are good Kiwi organisations ready and willing to offer help.”

For advice, support, or to offer your services to the tradie community, you can touch base with the Tools Down team at toolsdown.co.nz.

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