More apprentices, tradies seeking mental health support

Thursday, 20 July, 2023

More apprentices, tradies seeking mental health support

An Australian industry-funded mental health counselling service for tradies, truckies, rural and blue-collar workers, TIACS (This is a Conversation Starter) has reported an increase in the number of calls coming into the service from apprentices. According to Jason Banks, head of partnerships with TIACS, the rise in the number of apprentices calling in to TIACS for help is pleasing to see, as it shows that more apprentices are being vulnerable in opening up to their daily challenges.

According to TIACS’ June statistics, apprentices now make up 11% of the calls the organisation is receiving; 12 months ago, apprentices made up less than 4% of callers. “This means that apprentices are really feeling the challenges and pressure of the current market and the issues facing blue collar industries across the country,” Banks said.

While awareness of the service is growing, it means that apprentices are feeling the need to reach out. Banks said this demonstrates the level of strain that those working in blue collar industries are feeling. Banks said that overwhelmingly the key issue facing the blue-collar sector involves relationships. “When people are under pressure, the first thing that usually starts to fracture is relationships with loved ones at home such as partners. People are pretty good at holding it together at work and then fall apart as soon as they leave. Unfortunately loved ones usually have to deal with the stress at home,” he said.

The mental health counselling service is free for workers and the people that care about them. Every month, demand for the service grows as blue-collar workers across the country struggle with the impact of business failures, relationship breakdowns, health challenges and workplace issues. The counselling services are provided via phone and text five days a week, from 8 am to 10 pm. They are confidential and callers can continue to speak to the same qualified counsellor so there is continuity and confidence in the help provided.

“Tradies are doing it tough. Building sites and manufacturing environments are busy loud places where people don’t do a lot of one-on-one talking. They can also be very lonely and isolating places. Yet, these work environments can be places where people are struggling and may not have anyone to talk with. TAICS is very much about giving people a place they can turn to when they need to talk, without judgement. It’s what we all need really,” Banks said.

Over the last 12 months, approximately 8000 callers have utilised the service. While relationships continue to be a key theme for callers, anxiety is also a common issue, which demonstrates that people are stressed and worried about their job, financial situation and relationships. “For apprentices, they are facing additional strain with the cost of living skyrocketing. If we look at the plumbing industry, apprentice wages start at just $16.13 per hour for people who have completed year 12 and are under 21. This goes up slightly to $24.20 per hour if you are a mature-age apprentice,” Banks said.

Banks advised workplaces across the country to take extra note of the wellbeing of their apprentices, as many are onsite learning on the job without much support around them. “Workplaces are the most likely way for workers to hear about TIACS. For this reason it is very important that workplaces make staff aware of TIACS’ counselling services. They can also encourage staff to promote awareness of TIACS across their worksites,” Banks said.

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