Mental heath awareness shared with local tradies

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Trade students were treated to breakfast yesterday morning before taking part in an important conversation about mental health.

Organised by health promotion charity Hope Assistance Local Tradies (HALT), tradies at Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE in Shepparton discussed mental health and the importance of open and honest conversations between one another.

HALT co-founder Jeremy Forbes said the main aim of the organisation was suicide prevention and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health issues such as suicide, depression and anxiety.

As a tradie himself, Mr Forbes said it was important to identify the ‘‘she’ll be right’’ culture that existed within the industry and encouraged conversations and emotions to be explored further, particularly in apprentices.

‘‘Being an apprentice myself, I know what it’s like and I know what it can be like,’’ he said.

After a feed, the group gathered to discuss risk factors, protective factors and support services to help them in the future.

Hosting these events across the country, Mr Forbes said the response during the talk was always positive.

‘‘There is no expectations for them to talk, they don’t have to pour their hearts out or anything, it’s more about just acknowledging and listening,’’ he said.

He said many of those involved were well aware of the risk factors.

‘‘They’ve lived it, they’ve experienced it, they know it’s out there,’’ he said.

Mr Forbes said HALT was first established in his hometown of Castlemaine in 2013, after the suicide of a tradie caused devastation in the community.

He said chatting with apprentices was one of the most rewarding elements of the work.

‘‘The things we can do and the conversations we can have can change ideas and change their thoughts,’’ he said.

If you or someone you know may need some support, phone Lifeline on 131114 or MensLine Australia on 1300789 978.