Four in five UK tradespeople experience mental health problems due to work

Industry News

  • 88% don’t feel comfortable talking about their mental health 
  • The Cost of Living crisis is the most common cause of stress 
  • Joiners and bricklayers are the most likely trades to experience mental health problems 

More than four in five (82%) UK tradespeople experience mental health problems due to work-related issues, a new study has found.

The research was commissioned for Mental Health Awareness Week (13th-19th May) by IronmongeryDirect, and the results have been published in the fourth edition of their annual industry report.

It found that more than half (56%) of tradespeople experience some form of mental health problem, such as stress, anxiety or depression, every month, and sadly, more than a quarter (27%) feel symptoms every single week. However, in more positive findings, both statistics are lower than this time last year.

Once again, the ongoing Cost of Living crisis is the leading cause of stress, with more than a third (34%) saying it’s affecting their mental health, but this has also dropped slightly compared to the 2023 report (39%).

The rising cost of materials remains the second main stressor (32%), but new entries on the list include the poor work-life balance (24%), the physical demand of jobs (12%) and a lack of recognition (10%).

The top 10 most common causes of stress for tradespeople are: 

  1. Cost of Living crisis- 34% 
  2. Rising cost of materials- 32% 
  3. Finances- 25% 
  4. Poor work-life balance- 24% 
  5. Too much work- 17% 
  6. Tensions with customers- 15% 
  7. Tensions with suppliers- 14% 
  8. Physical demand- 12% 
  9. Lack of recognition- 10% 
  10. Long workdays- 10% 

Unfortunately, despite the benefits of doing so, almost nine in ten (88%) tradespeople don’t feel comfortable talking to others about their feelings. Just one in ten (10%) have spoken to friends or family about their mental health over the last year, which is down from previous studies (17%).

Furthermore, 7% of workers worry what their colleagues would think if they told them what they were going through, and more than a quarter (26%) feel they can’t take time off work for mental health reasons.

Bricklayers are the most likely tradespeople to feel stressed or anxious on a daily basis (35%), but overall, mental health problems are most common amongst Joiners. Almost all of those surveyed (92%) say they have experienced issues.

The trades that are most and least likely to experience mental health issues due to work are: 

  1. Joiner – 92% 
  2. Bricklayer – 90% 
  3. Builder – 87% 
  4. Caretaker – 87% 
  5. Carpenter – 87% 
  6. Building Surveyor – 85% 
  7. Plasterer – 82% 
  8. Electrician – 79% 
  9. Landscaper – 77% 
  10. Painter Decorator – 72% 
  11. Plumber – 70% 

As part of their campaign to raise awareness of mental health amongst tradespeople, IronmongeryDirect have donated over £13,000 in recent years to Basildon Mind, the mental health charity, to support its vital services.

Denise Kent, CEO at Basildon Mind, comments: “Thank you to IronmongeryDirect for the wonderful research piece again. One of the survey results that stood out to us was that so many workers, 9 out of 10, didn’t know that our local Mind, and the other 103 local Minds all over the country, are here to provide the support, respect and help for everyone experiencing a mental health issue. It shows that the battle continues for Mental Health Awareness, and we urge everyone to join the fight so that there is a future where everyone can get quality mental health care when they need it.”

Ellis Osborn, Ecommerce Manager at IronmongeryDirect, said: “This is now the fourth year we’ve conducted this research, and it’s clear that mental health problems continue to be a real issue across the industry.

“However, it’s encouraging to see some of the statistics dropping compared to previous studies. Hopefully the stigma around mental health is starting to reduce, and tradespeople feel slightly more willing to speak up when they have difficulties.

“Thre is certainly a long way to go though, and we urge everyone to reach out and talk to someone if they are feeling stressed or anxious. Opening up can feel daunting at first, but it can be the first step towards improving your mental health situation.”

To read IronmongeryDirect’s Mental Health in the Trades: 2024 Report, visit: https://www.ironmongerydirect.co.uk/research/mental-health-in-the-trades/  

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