Victoria's building and construction sector has urged industry participants to seek mental health support when needed.  

While the building and construction industry is booming, it continues to bear the brunt of a mental health crisis. On average, a building or construction worker takes their own life every two days.

Trades make up more than 30 per cent of the workforce in Australia, with more than 90 per cent of trades being men. Statistics reveal that men in the building and construction industry are 53 per cent more likely to die by suicide than other employed males in the country.

Between 2001 and 2018, there were 3621 suicides by male building and construction workers in Australia, including 850 in Victoria (second only to NSW with 980).

Suicides in building and construction are a global phenomenon, with high rates across Europe, the UK, and the US.  

Construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than work accidents. Young workers are twice more likely to take their own lives than other young Australian men. 

Master Builders Victoria (MBV) understands that many building and construction industry participants deal with substantial business-related stress and anxiety. These issues can flow through to their teams and families.

At the request of MBV member Supreme Green Landscaping, MBV arranged for HALT (Hope Assistance Local Tradies) to visit the team this week and discuss the importance of maintaining their mental health.

HALT founder Jeremy Forbes said he was passionate about providing tradespeople with the tools to have tough conversations about mental health and support each other during challenging times.

“I think the traditional aspect of the building and construction culture is to be tough, be strong, and you’ll be alright, which we know is not always helpful,” Mr Forbes said.

“I think with the changing nature of the industry and the rising cost of materials and supply chain challenges, we have seen some in the industry struggling, adding extra pressure to the daily mounting challenges.

“People think building and construction workers make a lot of money, have all the new toys, and life is lovely, but it’s not always like that.

“We are seeing more demand for our services this year – we’re up to 117 talks to industry participants since we restarted in March.

“It’s a growing issue. We must get out there at a grassroots level and talk to more tradespeople about suicide prevention.”

Thanks to HALT, Supreme Green Landscaping team members left the event with increased knowledge, confidence, and skills in the following key areas:

  • Myths surrounding mental health issues and suicide.
  • How to be a good listener and have a "tough conversation" with yourself or your mate.
  • How to access local and national support services.
  • Ways to support your wellbeing.
  • Reducing the shame of asking for help and understanding the risk factors.

Supreme Green Landscaping director Paul Leesment said it was great for his team to take some time out of their day to discuss the benefits of maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing.

“Mental health is at the top of our mind now coming out of COVID, and after learning that the owner of Metricon (Mario Biasin) passed away, it demonstrated to us that you never know who this can affect,” Mr Leesment said.

“Rather than waiting for something to happen, we thought we would preempt it by starting the conversation now and getting the professionals to address our young team.

“We have 25 male and female employees ranging in age from 16 to 60. And we know this issue can affect anyone at any age.”

Another building and construction industry participant, Peter (who wanted his surname withheld), lost an ex-team member to suicide last week. He said the building and construction industry needed to work together to educate people.

Peter said he knew his ex-team member was not in a good headspace when he suddenly quit his job a few weeks ago.

“We knew he had a few issues and problems, and we tried to assist him where we could. Unfortunately, I’ve been through this situation with quite a few people,” Peter said.

“I know his death hit the boys hard.

“As an employer, the industry is quite challenging, everyone thinks it’s going great, but there are a lot of problems to manage.”

MBV CEO Rebecca Casson said MBV remained deeply concerned by reports that the building and construction industry had the highest rate of suicide of any sector.

"From speaking directly with our members, we know that everyone in our industry is feeling the pressure, and it is evident that this is taking a toll on the mental health of many in our sector," Ms Casson said.

Ms Casson said the confronting facts about the building and construction industry's mental health issues were alarming and often preventable. 

"We know that those working in our industry are more than 50 per cent more likely to take their own lives, so we urge all tradespeople to prioritise their physical and mental health," she said.

"Building and construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work.

"And while one-in-five Australian workers are likely to be experiencing a mental health issue at any one time – that figure rises to one-in-four among building and construction workers.

"Maintaining industry participants' mental health in our sector is a shared responsibility, and everyone must play their part."

Incolink is Australia’s largest provider of severance benefits and income protection in the commercial building and construction industry and supports workers' physical and mental health.

In 2018 Incolink launched Bluehats, designed by industry for industry as a peer-to-peer support network providing education, training, and support to workers on-site.

Bluehats aims to increase general mental health awareness and begin potentially lifesaving conversations, helping building and construction workers to access the necessary resources and support.

Incolink has trained more than 350 Bluehats to recognise the signs that someone might be thinking about suicide and to know how to ask the right questions.

Incolink CEO Erik Locke said suicide affects workers in the Victorian building and construction industry more than any other workforce, with the highest rates of suicide of any worker group.

“Male construction workers under 25 years old are more than twice as likely to take their own lives compared to the general population,” Mr Locke said.

“While Incolink was established to provide a financial safety net for building and construction workers, we proudly go further than that today.

“We provide our members with a more holistic support service recognising the mental health issues that are sadly a reality for many in our industry.

“Incolink provides the only in-house counselling and critical response service in the industry, doing more than 5000 counselling sessions and 20-plus critical responses each year. 

“We believe this is vital work for the industry, with the ultimate objective of getting the suicide numbers down and saving lives.”

Studies by Mates in Construction reveal that 93 per cent of building and construction workers who had committed suicide had never sought professional health. They either did not know where to find help, did not want to, or were never encouraged to. 

MBV urges everyone in the building and construction industry to remember that if they need help, crisis support can be found at:

* Lifeline: (13 11 14 and

* The Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467 and

* beyondblue (1300 22 4636 and

* HALT (0409 756 274 and [email protected]

* Mates in Construction (1300 642 111 and

* Any building and construction industry worker experiencing a crisis and needing immediate mental health support should call Incolink's 24/7 helpline on 1300 000 129.