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Dulux academy highlights importance of mental health for trades professionals

Research from the Dulux Academy reveals that decorators are amongst the least open trade profession when it comes to discussing mental health, despite 1 in 2 admitting to having been affected at some point in the past five years.

In a survey carried out by Dulux Academy with 1,000 trade professionals, builders topped the table as most likely to suffer with mental health issues, despite being the most likely to ask for help. In contrast, almost half (45 per cent) of professional painters and decorators wouldn’t be open to asking for support.

Overall, professionals highlighted the rise in mental health issues as a challenge for the industry, with a staggering 84 per cent having experienced the impact of mental health struggles in the job, and 75 per cent admitting to having personally battled with mental health conditions.

The results show that addressing mental health in the professional trades sector is an industry-wide challenge, yet 50 per cent admitted they wouldn’t feel confident in speaking up if they were struggling, with 42 per cent feeling that even if they did it would make no difference and a significant 45 per cent revealing that they wouldn’t know where to turn for help and advice.

In response to the research, Dulux Academy is set to launch a number of initiatives including a Mental Health First Aid course, designed specifically to provide trades professionals with the basics on how to identify and support those who could be affected by mental health challenges.

Announced to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week which runs from 13th to 19th May 2019, the course will allow professional decorators to arm themselves with the skills to help those who may be fighting a silent, secret battle.

Vickie Mather, Dulux Academy Lead comments: “The Academy was founded in order to help professional decorators to enhance their skills, especially in areas where emerging trends require professionals to stay ahead of the curve. We employ the best trainers and provide the highest standards of teaching to meet the demands of an ever-changing industry – this isn’t our usual kind of training course but arguably will become one of our most important.

“The Mental Health First Aid course will enable those who attend to leave with new practical skills to face an ever-growing industry challenge and give them a better understanding of how best to support their peers when it comes to mental health.”

The study also revealed that the stigma attached to discussing mental health is the main barrier to asking for help, with 66 per cent citing this as the reason they’d keep quiet. However, more than half (52 per cent) also admitted that if education was more widely available, they would undertake a course in order to best support their colleagues.

Dulux Select Decorators also took part in the research to understand mental health awareness in the professional painting and decorating industry. Of those who took part, almost two thirds (63 per cent) felt that the industry does not currently provide enough support for mental health conditions, with only 30 per cent feeling as though they would be equipped to provide help and support to peers struggling with their mental health. Meanwhile, 80 per cent called for more support to be made available.

Mather continues “The research didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know, but the scale of the issue was quite staggering. Results confirmed that this is a nationwide challenge, which is why the course will be just the first of a number of new initiatives to be launched, to make sure we are supporting our industry as much as possible.”

Tips from the Dulux academy team

With combined experience spanning more than four decades, the Dulux Academy skills development consultants have seen it all.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, as the Dulux Academy develops its own unique course to support Mental Health First Aid amongst trades professionals, Chris Wingrove and Mark Rigby give their own advice on how to manage mental health.

Chris Wingrove says:

“The only simple “advice” I can give is to always pick up the phone, give someone a call or reach out to your peers. My training role has often necessitated working or being alone for long spells and just talking to someone else who might be in the same situation helps.

“Joining one of the many online forums also provides great interaction and fun, as well as – usually – good moral support. Everyone has a phone these days – it was so much more difficult 20 or 30 years ago!”

Mark Rigby adds:

“Prior to joining the Dulux Academy I had 35 years of trading as a painter and decorator. Most of this time was spent as a sole trader which, more often than not, means working alone. You can go for days, sometimes weeks with little, if any, interaction with other people.

“These can be lonely and stressful times with nobody to share your thoughts with – especially when things aren’t quite going as you want them to. As a way of combating this I highly recommend joining some of the online forum groups such as the Dulux Academy Network.

“Not only are these forums a great source of information to help you with problems you may be encountering, but they also give you a sense of belonging and reassurance that there is someone to reach out to when you need it. You can also gain a great sense of satisfaction if you’re able to help someone else and, sometimes, that’s just as important in maintaining your own wellbeing.”