Most weeks I write about the things that our industry is getting right.

Today, I want to write about something we are getting wrong.

It’s mental health.

Every second day, our industry loses a worker to suicide.

Let that sink in: Every. Second. Day.

Mostly, it’s blokes. It’s mates who you could not imagine making the worst decision possible.
All too often, they are being silently overwhelmed by the challenges of life – trying to pay bills, meeting responsibilities, dealing with a relationship breakdown, or just becoming despondent about how life is going.

It doesn’t matter if you are a chief executive, a draftsman or a tradie, we all need someone to talk to.

There’s nothing unmanly in asking for help – in fact, it’s an admirable thing to do.

There’s also nothing lost in checking in with a mate to see if they are OK. Is it awkward? Yes, it can be. Is it vital? Absolutely.

Tomorrow is R U OK? Day. It’s a reminder that safety in our workplaces is not only doing the right things at work – like wearing helmets and hi-vis and following standard operating procedures. It’s also about checking in with our colleagues and creating the right environment to talk.

Fortunately, MATES in Construction is reaching out to building sites across Australia and doing important work, particularly through the Fly the Flag program which encourages construction teams to check in on colleagues.

If you are feeling depressed or thinking about suicide, there’s help available. You can call the MATES in Construction helpline on 1300 642 111. Lifeline also offers crisis support on 13 11 14.