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Mental Health Awareness Week: Understanding the Mental Health of Decorators 

Mental Health Awareness Week encourages people across the UK to not only acknowledge their own mental health and how to improve it, but also to learn the signs of mental health issues in others and how to help. 

Recent industry research found that 50% of tradespeople in the decorating industry experience mental health issues due to their job. That’s why this Mental Health Awareness Week, it seems more pertinent than ever to understand the stresses that come with being a decorator – and together with Dulux Decorator Centre, we are exploring what can cause mental health issues for decorators and how to alleviate them. 

will soon be announcing the results of its State of the Nation pulse check report – an investigation into the livelihoods of decorators across the UK – but we can exclusively reveal that this report has demonstrated that nearly 45% of decorators have suffered with their mental health either due to work or external factors, with almost half of these cases taking place in the past two years. 

It’s perhaps no surprise that most of those who have suffered mentally have done so during the years of the pandemic, with 77% of decorators believing poor mental health is more of an issue now than it was pre-Covid. This is something that was also mentioned in Trade Decorator’s recent livestream with Runa Uddin from Mind, with isolation, bereavement and financial struggles borne from the pandemic highlighted as having a detrimental impact on mental wellbeing. Interestingly, finances were a big topic during this livestream, as recent industry research has found this to be the leading cause of mental health issues in decorators, with 38% of cases being down to this. Other areas causing stress include tensions with customers and trying to do the best for them, high workload and job security, and making mistakes.  

Identifying the signs

Now that we’re aware of the main issues that can impact mental wellbeing in decorators, how do we know if we or a fellow tradesperson is suffering? Poor mental health can manifest itself in many ways, with mental wellbeing issues contributing to mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders and depression. These all have their own symptoms and can present themselves differently depending on the person – that being said, key signs to look out for according to the NHS include, but are not limited to:

  • Continuous low mood or sadness, or feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling guilt-ridden, tearful or irritable 
  • Not getting any enjoyment from life and neglecting hobbies and interests
  • Feeling anxious or worried
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Constipation
  • Unexplained aches or pains
  • Lack of energy and sex drive
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Avoiding contact with friends
  • Having difficulties in your home, work or family life 

If you recognise that you or someone you know is displaying one or more of these symptoms, it’s important to understand that these could be early warning signs of a mental health issue and it’s time to do something about it. Acknowledging and understanding what is happening can help you go about tackling it in the most tangible way. 

How to help yourself and others

After reflecting on these symptoms, it may be that you can recognise these changes in the physical and mental behaviours in yourself or maybe even someone you know. The question is: how can you help yourself or someone else if you or they are struggling with their mental health? 

Similar to the symptoms, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach here. What one person might find beneficial to their mental wellbeing may be completely unhelpful to another. Something that most people do find helpful, however, is opening up about the problem. This is something that 67% of decorators who took part in the Dulux Decorator Centre report did when struggling with their mental health – be that to a colleague or a loved one – and comes recommended by professionals. It also ties in with this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme of loneliness, as reaching out and contacting people when you feel you or someone else needs help is a vital first step in not only acknowledging the problem, but also getting the help required. As Runa addresses in the livestream, reaching out for yourself or for someone else – although never comfortable – is the “most powerful thing you can do.”

As a customer-centred supplier, Dulux Decorator Centre recognises the struggles impacting decorators in today’s current industry climate and have a number of resources to help. We’ve seen how the pandemic has affected the mental health of a vast amount of tradespeople, and the Backing our Decorators campaign – launched at the start of the pandemic to support customers – is a great collection of resources to help decorators get back on their feet. This initiative was set up as a result of the difficulties faced by tradespeople due to the pandemic, providing help and resources to get their work back on track.

Those concerned about job security, lack of work and a high workload can find help with the Dulux Decorator Centre Workfinder, which brings together customers needing a decorator and decorators looking for job opportunities. Tradespeople are able to view current job listings, as well as submit their own listings for help on their projects if their workload is too high. 

Outside of the Backing our Decorators campaign, Dulux Decorator Centre customers can chat to colleagues in store for advice on how to best plan and approach projects – so those concerned about doing the best job for their customers can walk into their next job with that extra peace of mind. Dulux Decorator Centre 360 customers also have a dedicated account manager that can provide this service. On the online store, 24/7 online ordering is available, alongside a priority order phone number and convenient delivery options to ensure decorators can get what they need to make their job a great one, as soon as they need it.  

There are also several charities that you can reach out to for more advice on how to help yourself or someone else, or to just have a chat. The Rainy Day Trust is a specialist charity that supports those who have worked in the home improvement and enhancement industries, while The Lighthouse Club provides emotional, physical and financial wellbeing support to construction workers and their families. 

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we strongly encourage you to take an introspective look at your own mental wellbeing and reach out to those who you think may be struggling – taking the time to acknowledge your own mental health, as well as others’, is not only a great help and comfort to whoever may be struggling but also another step to breaking the stigma of mental health.

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