Mental health in the trades: 2022 report

In line with Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, we once again surveyed UK tradespeople to highlight the issue of work-related stress within the industry. This report reveals the scale of the problem, how things have changed since last year, the most common cause of the stress, the impact it has on tradespeople’s lives and, crucially, what you can do if this affects you.


Who’s affected?

Worryingly, more than four in five UK tradespeople (82%) say they've experienced some form of mental health problem due to work, such as stress, anxiety or depression. Many of these individuals deal with such issues on a regular basis, with one in eight (13%) reporting symptoms every day and almost half (45%) every fortnight. Shockingly, almost two-thirds (64%) experience work-related stress at least once a month.

Some tradespeople are more likely to experience mental health issues than others. Female workers (87%), for example, are more prone to such conditions than men (80%).

Regarding age, those who are between 18 and 24 years old are the most likely to face these challenges, with more than nine in ten (94%) reporting some form of mental health issue every year. However, it is those aged 35 to 44 who face such conditions most often, with almost a fifth struggling daily (18%).

This year we also explored whether being employed or self-employed has any impact on mental health. We found that self-employed tradespeople are significantly less likely to have issues, with just 6% experiencing symptoms daily, compared to 16% of employed individuals.


Almost two thirds of tradespeople experience work-related stress at least a month

Causes of Stress Chart
Causes of Stress


The causes of these mental health issues are incredibly varied and will differ for every individual. However, money worries are the number one concern, as they were last year, with over a third (34%) saying they are a major cause of stress. Tensions with customers (24%) and a high workload (23%) are next on the list.

Financial reasons top the list for all age groups, except for the over 65s, who say that keeping up with the ever-changing Covid-19 regulations has been their main anxiety (37%). The risk of catching Coronavirus has also been a significant worry, with almost a fifth (18%) saying it has played on their mind over the last year.

Sadly, abuse from customers remains another common cause of mental health problems, with a staggering 18% of tradespeople saying they struggle with threats and insults. This is treble the figure from last year's report (6%), suggesting the problem could be growing. Our recent research found that nearly nine in ten (86%) tradespeople have suffered some form of customer abuse.

Interestingly, the biggest difference between employed and self-employed workers is that the latter are far less stressed about the possibility of making mistakes on a job. Mistakes are the fourth greatest concern for employed individuals (22%), but the least noteworthy worry for the self-employed (12%).


What’s the impact?

These stressors have a significant impact, including over a quarter (28%) of UK tradespeople taking anti-depressants or some form of similar medication, while almost a third (32%) have needed professional help from a counsellor or therapist.

Mental health issues have also caused nearly one in five (19%) to take time off work. This is most common amongst 34–44-year-old tradespeople, with over a quarter (27%) having taken a leave of absence due to stress.

How often tradespeople experience stress, anxiety and depression

Stress Impact Graph Stress Impact Graph

By trade

Mental health issues are far more common in some trades than others. Plasterers are the most likely tradespeople to experience problems, with more than nine in ten (92%) admitting symptoms every year. Finances (46%) are their main cause of anxiety, which probably explains why they are the most likely tradespeople to feel like they can't take time off work for mental health reasons (46%).

They are followed by carpenters (90%), who primarily worry about money (37%) and tensions with customers (35%).

Finances are the top concern for all trades besides scaffolders and building surveyors, who are both chiefly worried about their high workload (53% and 34% respectively).

Painter and decorators are the most likely to fear contracting Covid-19 (31%), while plumbers are the most concerned by a lack of work (19%).

Tradespeople Graph
Trades Comfort Graph

What can you do?

One of the most positive ways to begin addressing mental health issues is to open up and talk to someone about what you are going through, no matter how difficult that may be. Unfortunately, just one in six (16%) tradespeople have spoken to friends or family about their problems, which is considerably fewer than last year (42%).

More than four in five (85%) say they don't feel comfortable talking about their mental health with others. This is more of a problem amongst older tradespeople, with more than nine in ten (91%) of those aged over 65 finding it hard to discuss what they're feeling, compared to around three-quarters (78%) of millennials.

Furthermore, one in six (16%) UK tradespeople say they worry what others would think if they told them about their mental health situation.

To help break this stigma, be sure to check in on your colleagues, employees, friends and family and ask how they are. Do this regularly to show your support and open up the conversation for you to both discuss worries if necessary.

Employers should make an effort to invest in mental health training, so you know what signs to look for and how to help anyone who needs support.

If you're feeling stressed about work, follow these helpful tips from the mental health charity, Mind:

Helpful Tips

What we’ve done to help

Here at IronmongeryDirect, we’re passionate about raising awareness on this topic and helping tradespeople feel comfortable to discuss their stressors with others. To help on this mission, we’re donating over £3,000 to the charity, Basildon Mind, to support its incredible efforts to improve the mental health of the nation. The money will help fund its vital work, which includes providing emotional, physical and financial wellbeing support to people and their families.

We also organised a stunt where we recreated the famous Lunch Atop a Skyscraper image for the photo’s 90th anniversary, as the number of workers in the scene (11) matches the weekly number of trade suicides.

Because men generally find it more difficult to talk about how they’re feeling, in male-dominated industries such as construction, employees are often less willing to ask for support

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind

Because men generally find it more difficult to talk about how they’re feeling, in male-dominated industries such as construction, employees are often less willing to ask for support

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind
Done Help

For more information and support

For more information about Basildon Mind and the services it offers

For support specific to the construction industry


To speak to someone about your mental health, visit the Construction Industry Helpline

[1] Survey of 500 UK tradespeople conducted by The Leadership Factor on behalf of IronmongeryDirect in 2022

[2] There were 589 trade suicides in 2020, the latest data available: -