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Mental Health in the Trades: 2023 Report

In line with Mental Health Awareness Week 2023, 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 causes of 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 (84%) 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 more than a quarter (29%) reporting symptoms every week and almost half (48%) every fortnight. Shockingly, more than two-thirds (68%) experience work-related stress at least once a month.

Some tradespeople are more likely to experience mental health issues than others. Female workers (89%), for example, are more prone to such conditions than men (79%).

Regarding age, those who are between 18 and 24 years old are the most likely to face these challenges, with almost all of those surveyed (98%) reporting some form of mental health issue every year. However, it is those aged 35 to 44 who face such conditions most often, with one in ten (10%) struggling daily.

We also explored whether being employed or self-employed has any impact on mental health. Last year our research found that self-employed tradespeople were far less likely to have issues, but this year the opposite is true, perhaps due to the stress of dealing with the difficult financial landscape of their own. One in ten (10%) self-employed workers experience symptoms daily, compared to 6% of employed individuals.


More than two thirds of tradespeople experience work-related stress at least once 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, the ongoing Cost of Living crisis is the number one concern, with almost two in five (39%) saying it's a major cause of stress. Almost two in five (39%) workers are now doing extra shifts as a result, risking burnout, and more than a fifth (21%) say the situation has made their mental health worse.

The rising cost of materials is now also amongst the main stressors (36%), and recent research by IronmongeryDirect found that tradespeople rank the issue as the biggest challenge facing the industry in 2023.

Finances (28%) and tensions with customers (20%) are also high on the list, although the former is far more a concern for male tradespeople than female (34% vs 22%). In contrast, tradeswomen are more anxious about ensuring they do a good job for customers (20% vs 15%) and tensions with suppliers (15% vs 12%).

Job security is on the mind of young tradespeople, with almost a quarter of Gen Z workers (18-24, 24%) not feeling confident about their employment. This young generation is more than twice as likely as their older colleagues to be worried about job security (7% of over 55s).


What’s the impact?

These stressors have a significant impact, and 6% UK tradespeople have taken or are taking anti-depressants or some form of similar medication. Moreover, the same number (6%) have needed professional help from a counsellor or therapist. This number should probably be higher too, as almost nine in ten (89%) workers say they don't know how to access mental health support services.

Mental health issues have also caused one in seven (14%) to take time off work. This is most common amongst Gen Z tradespeople, with over a quarter (24%) having taken a leave of absence due to stress.

Despite experiencing more mental health problems, self-employed workers are less likely than employed tradespeople to take time off for such reasons (11% vs 16%), potentially making the situation worse.

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. Building surveyors are the most likely tradespeople to experience problems, with almost all of those surveyed 98% admitting symptoms every year. The rising cost of materials is their main cause of anxiety (30%).

They are followed by carpenters (93%), who primarily worry about the Cost of Living crisis (60%). IronmongeryDirect study earlier this year found that a fifth (20%) of carpenters feel they can no longer afford to take days off due to the crisis.

Tradespeople Graph
Trades Comfort Graph

Tales from the trade

It is important to recognise that behind the numbers in each of these appalling statistics are real people going through incredibly tough times. We spoke to a variety of tradespeople who shared their mental health stories, as well as their thoughs on what needs to be done to improve the situation.

I've experienced work-related stress due to long working hours, unrealistic deadlines and working away from family and friends for long periods of time. Working as an electrician is physically and mentally demanding as you have little downtime to relax, which can cause stress and make you feel isolated.

I never really spoke to anybody about my feelings as there is very much a culture of 'get on with it' or 'man up'. I worried that if I did speak up people might think I was incapable of doing the job that I get paid to do.

However, it's certainly important that people feel comfortable being open and talking about their struggles and issues so that they can be resolved. Luckily, mental health is no longer the taboo subject it once was but it is still a subject that people find hard to admit. More needs to be done to reassure people that opening up in a safe environment with trustworthy people is healthy, and that you are certainly not on your own, whatever you are experiencing.

Anonymous, electrician from Sheffield
Done Help
Done Help

I experience burnout far too regularly. I have often felt stressed at work but the seriousness of it started in 2020 at the onset of the pandemic. I remember asking my husband if it were possible to die from stress as I was genuinely concerned.

I have often just tried to survive it and make it to the other side. Sometimes I share vulnerably on social media platforms about stress, burnout and mental health, but I also feel this pressure (that I put on myself) to keep it together all the time - which is ridiculous, because I am human and this is not possible.

Tradespeople need to understand that they are not alone. Never. Things don't have to stay the way they are. We just need some brave people to step up and be vulnerable and share, which then might encourage others to share as well.

Rebecca Bishop, co-founder of Elite Building
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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 (17%) tradespeople have spoken to friends or family about their problems, with millenials (25-34) the least likely to do so (11%).

More than four in five (84%) say they don't feel comfortable talking about their mental health with others. This is more of a problem amongst male tradespeople, with (86%) finding it hard to discuss what they're feeling, compared to (82%) of tradeswomen.

Furthermore, one in ten (10%) 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 £5,000 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.

Furthermore, our team is organising a Circular Economy Shop for Basildon Mind, where clothes are donated to the charity.

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we also organised a stunt where we created a giant mural of 687 high-vis vests to represent the annual number of trade suicides, and increase the visibility of mental health issues in our industry.

By highlighting the appalling scale of this problem, we hope to raise awareness of the issue and encourage people to seek support.

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
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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

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

Our 2022 Mental Health in the Trades Report:

[1] Survey of 500 UK tradespeople conducted by The Leadership Factor on behalf of IronmongeryDirect in 2023

[2] On average, between 2019 and 2021 (the latest data available), there were 687 suicides in skilled trade occupations in England and Wales: