On a school trip to the Tip-Top factory we learnt that ice cream is happy food, and it takes happy people make good ice cream. There is an old saying that: ‘You only get out what you put in’. We know this is true with our diet and exercise, and we know that our mental health works the same way.

The perpetuation of Builder’s crack jokes we make are due to the physical output of an input-adjustment needed among Tradies! (#pieandcoffeelife) However, up until recently, there had only been assumptions about the corresponding emotional in & outputs of this group. When Site Safe released its findings we found that:

Men in trades account for nearly 7% of NZ suicides annually. It doesn’t sound like much, but that’s 30/year, from an industry already in short supply! Most at risk are our apprentices, just learning their craft (20 – 24 yr olds) and our mid-life crisis aged bosses (45-49 yr olds). While findings show that work issues only factored into 1/3 of all deaths, it highlights that work is just one facet of a persons life. What is evident however, is that change is needed to address issues earlier to avoid this outcome.

So how do we affect the input so that the output is different?

Women seem to have figured out the value of the ‘tribe’, banding together, sharing our stories in formal and informal forums to lift each other on our journey of self-love.

But can we treat males, let alone tradies the same way? We’re lucky if we can get them to talk about anything deeper than their last meal. Or can we?

What we know is that in all cases what leads to that grim finale is disconnection from interpersonal relationships and a reduced feeling of value in different facets of their lives – not enough of the right input.

Our tradies have practical minds and busy hands. They gain pride in creating something tangible from lines on a page. So while hugs and #girlboss affirmations wont help, there is evidence that a healthy ‘feeding’ of the male phyche is needed. There are no quick fixes, but for us, we’ve taken this a challenge. It’s become part of our toolbox talks and training sessions. And like the lesson we learnt at TipTop, if home is where the heart is, we want to build that heart in, line upon line, nail by nail, building beautiful futures.