Building strong mental health in the construction industry

Richard (grey shirt) and some of the Friday evening ‘shed’ guys: Paul, Anthony, Ross, Jeff, Dave and Paul.

A POSITIVE shift in mindset among builders and those in the construction industry has been revealed in the latest State of Residential Construction Industry report from the Australian of Professional Builders (APB).

The data states that the mental health of 79.1 percent of respondents either improved or stayed the same in 2023.

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In a move to keep up the momentum the APB has partnered with BuildUp Australia – a support network for Australian construction workers – to become a uniting force for not only Australia’s leading building associations, but also for individual struggling tradies.

Together, these key industry organisations are successfully tackling issues around suicide and mental health.

Hibbard Homes Acquisitions and Special Projects Manager Richard Stubbs told News Of The Area he’s right behind an initiative such as BuildUp, having set up his own social mentoring group in Coffs Harbour.

“In 2017 my wife and I purchased an industrial unit for us to operate our development company out of and to store equipment etc,” Richard said.

“What started out as a few mates coming to see what we had bought turned into creating the perfect ‘man cave’ for us to meet once a week and sort out the problems of the world.

“The group has grown since 2017 as I now have many work colleagues and friends dropping by each Friday afternoon for a quiet beer and BBQ on their way home from work.”

The group are mainly from the building and automotive industries Richard has worked in since moving to Coffs Harbour in 1990.

The age group ranges from 20-year-olds to a few guys in their 60s.

“I find it great that these guys can air anything they like to the group or some are happy to have a quiet talk to an individual, and what gets said in the shed stays in the shed.”

Many new friendships have been made over the years.

Moving out of Coffs Harbour for work opportunities doesn’t mean they lose touch with the group, either.

“They let me know when they’re coming back to town for a visit and it’s great to catch up and hear what’s been happening in their lives.

“For most of the guys it’s a highlight in their week.

“Wives and girlfriends don’t mind them coming each week as it’s an innocent environment unlike going to a pub.

“Wives and girlfriends occasionally join us, and we all enjoy the different conversations when the girls are there as they have a very different view on life.”

Richard can recall his father attending Friday afternoon beers with friends at a mechanical workshop in Canberra.

“I remember as a child sometimes going and loved hearing the stories they would tell.

“I think the BuildUp initiative is a great idea moving forward and other industries should follow their lead as mental health affects all industries.

“I have a 20-year-old son who joins us most weeks and would like him to continue the Friday catch up.

“You just never know that one day you may be saving a mate’s life.”

BuildUp Australia was created to unite the construction industry through dedicated inner circles known as ‘chapters’, their aim to connect business owners to those in similar trades.

Co-Founder BuildUp Australia Adrien Mamet said, “There is so much stigma surrounding mental health in the industry.

“We’re raised with an unspoken expectation to be self-reliant and silent in the face of overwhelming situations, leading to the worst rates of suicide and burnout of any profession in the country.”


A Friday evening catch-up for Richard Stubbs and mates in the ‘man cave’. An important social event for the guys at the end of a working week.

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