Safety footwear manufacturer raises $300K to support tradie mental health
Steel Blue and Beyond Blue have raised $300,000 for Beyond Blue, through sales of the Steel Blue ‘Blue Boots’. Since 2014, Steel Blue has directly donated $10 to support the Beyond Blue Support Service from every pair of men’s and ladies’ Blue Boots sold. Steel Blue Chief Executive Garry Johnson noted that the company has now sold over 38,000 pairs of men’s and women’s Blue Boots, supporting over 6250 contacts to the Beyond Blue Support Service and providing Australians with 24/7 access to a trained mental health professional.
Johnson added that the Blue Boots raise vital funds for Beyond Blue and serve to raise awareness, as a natural conversation starter at many work sites to further help break the stigma around mental health. “The reality is, most tradies are men, and we know that every day in Australia approximately seven men die by suicide. We also know that men are far less likely to seek help. This is retail therapy in the very real sense of the word — we’re literally trying to help tradies ‘boot the blues’ in the most practical way we know,” Johnson said.
Over 25 years, Steel Blue has grown to a global safety boot manufacturer with distribution to over 40 countries. After recognising some of the highest levels of mental health illness and suicide were found among their customer base of tradies, FIFO and construction workers, Steel Blue decided to do more than make footwear. The partnership with Beyond Blue allows Steel Blue to financially support the Beyond Blue Support Service which offers free, immediate and confidential counselling from mental health professionals, over the phone and online. Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said the partnership with Steel Blue continues during a crucial time in Australia. “Steel Blue’s support is so vital, especially at a time when people across the nation continue to feel the effects of the pandemic. Monthly demand for Beyond Blue’s support services remains between 20 and 30% above pre-pandemic levels, so we are extremely grateful to Steel Blue for supporting our work,” Harman said.
Beyond Blue speaker James Hill has worked in the electrical industry for 28 years and voluntarily shares his story to help others living with depression and anxiety. Hill recalled that the hardest step was the first step, recognising that he needed help, and then taking the next step to get help. “Once I was able to talk openly, I found my recovery was much easier to navigate. My top piece of advice for anyone struggling with a mental health illness is, there is no shame in reaching out for help and support. As a tradesperson since the early 1990s I learnt that men didn’t talk about mental health problems. Having lived the negative consequences of not doing this in the past, I’m now a much better person for leaving the old stereotypical ‘toughen up’ attitudes that I once lived by,” Hill said.
Another Blue Boots Partner, the Australian Physiotherapy Association Chair of Occupational Health, Deb Sutherland, said the initiative tied in with the APA’s Tradies National Health Month every August. Sutherland revealed that the 2019 Tradies Health Survey found that almost 70% of tradies said they found it hard to do their job if they are not at their physical and mental best. “Physiotherapists are often the first point of contact for injuries, placing them in the prime position to identify signs of poor mental health and encourage tradies to seek professional help,” Sutherland said, before acknowledging the link between poor physical health and poor mental health. “Of those tradies who had been injured as a result of their work, 25% said they experienced mental health issues such as depression or anxiety as a result of the injury, with this figure being even higher among labourers,” Sutherland said.
The Beyond Blue Support Service can be reached on 1300 224 636 or via email and webchat at beyondblue.org.au/getsupport.
Phone: 08 9209 3322
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