The new service coincides with the return of the Big Brew, which encourages people in construction to chat about their mental health over a cup of tea
"If someone isn’t in a place where they can open up face-to-face, the new text service is another way to get the ball rolling in seeking help. Peter Cape, Big Brew lead at Band of Builders
A text service has been launched by the charity Band of Builders to help tradespeople open up about their mental health.
The new text line enables tradespeople, contractors and their families struggling with their mental health to access support by texting the word BOB to the number 85258.
The initiative coincides with the return of the Big Brew, launched last year by the same charity, which encourages tradespeople and contractors to come together over a cup of tea as the first step in seeking help with problems ranging from anxiety to suicidal thoughts. The Big Brew is sponsored by Big Red Construction.
More than 250 Big Brew events are expected to take place in builders’ merchants and on construction sites across the UK. They will run in October to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October. Last year, 175 events took place, raising enough money to fund a new free construction industry-only counselling service for two years.
Band of Builders, which runs the events, is a charity that helps members of the UK construction industry who are battling illness or injury through the completion of practical projects carried out by volunteer tradespeople using donated materials.
Peter Cape, the Big Brew lead at Band of Builders, said that the events were hugely important in helping people in the industry speak out about their mental health problems: “The first ever Big Brew highlighted just how much the construction industry was crying out for something that gave tradespeople and contractors the outlet to get together over a cuppa and discuss the wider issue of mental health and wellbeing – and open up individually to workmates or even staff at their local builders’ merchants.
“The campaign is proving to be a vital lifeline at a time when suicide rates in the sector were already at one per day before the Covid pandemic – according to ONS figures – and it’s widely accepted that these have worsened to closer to two per day.
“The challenge has been to make it as easy as possible for tradespeople and contractors to take that all-important first step and reach out for help. The new tea scale is a great icebreaker, prompting people to ask where their mental health is on the scale. And if someone isn’t in a place where they can open up face-to-face, the new text service is another way to get the ball rolling in seeking help.
“It’s fair to say that construction workers, like everyone else in the UK, are facing difficult times with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, so it’s more important than ever that they have somewhere to turn to if they need to talk – whether that’s in person or via text.”
People can register an interest in hosting a Big Brew event at https://bandofbuilders.org, or join in the conversation online by using the hashtag #GiveYourselfABreak.
This is a great sector-specific initiative to support people experiencing mental health problems. People working in the construction industry are particularly susceptible to mental ill health, so it’s wonderful to see an imaginative approach to helping people open up, and giving them the choice of meeting up over a cup of tea or using a text service if they don’t feel ready for a face-to-face conversation. FCC believes the health and care sector should be providing adequate services which would mean such initiatives needn’t exist. However, Band of Builders has set an important example in launching this campaign, and we would love to see other sectors following suit. Enabling new routes of engagement are critical for success. Peer-to-peer support is excellent, but self-assembly of such groups is not the solution to inadequate crisis support.