Trademutt, an Australian social enterprise that creates bold and bright workwear for tradies with the goal of tackling mental health head on, launched This Is A Conversation Starter in 2018.
Trigger warning: suicide.
In 2016, Trademutt co-founder Dan Allen lost a close friend to suicide. “His name was also Dan and he was one of the first mates I had made when I moved to Brisbane. He quickly became like a brother who had an infectious personality that was impossible to ignore. This was the first time in my life that I had been affected by suicide. As hard as I remember it being to accept, and the confusion that came with it, it must have been unmeasurable compared to what was felt by his mum, dad and brother. This was truly a life changer," Allen recalls.
Trademutt co-founders Allen and Ed Ross manufacture a range of loud and vibrant shirts to act as a catalyst to start the conversation around mental health in men – "a topic that has been hard to approach for blokes, mostly due to the attached stigmas and perceived weakness," Allen says.
At the back of every Trademutt product sit the words 'This is a Conversation Starter'.
In 2018, Allen and Ross, in partnership with a friend and a generous donation from Bretts Timber and Hardware, helped a young man they'd found expressing suicidal thoughts on social media get help from a mental health professional. The young man told the friends he had not had any contact after reaching out to a mental health charity. Allen and Ross wanted to do something different and give people the access and help they need. Support from a mental health professional isn’t cheap, and is not always accessible. This is a Conversation Starter (TIACS) Foundation was born. Allen and Ross knew that they wanted to further their work from driving a cultural shift around the mental health conversation to actually providing a solution for anyone seeking help.
TIACS facilitates access to mental health professionals by removing the physical and financial barriers to help. "We provide early intervention and mental health education, helping individuals to understand their own mental health and equip them with the tools to practice mental wellness and be the best version of themselves," says Ross. "We use technology at the fingertips of everyday Australians allowing access to psychological therapy services as simple as pushing a button."
TIACS can be reached on 0488 846 988, from 9.30am to 5pm weekdays. The service, attended by professional volunteers, puts callers in touch with a mental health professional without charge. Further information is available at www.tiacs.org.
“There are many blue collar workers who don’t have the time, means or ability to access psychological services," says Marc Ahmelman, TIACS Foundation CEO. "For example, TIACS handles calls from truckies who are working up to 80 hours a week. They can call TIACS if they need to talk through issues – for truckies, making an appointment to see a psychologist is very difficult.
"It's early days and we're building capacity to extend the hours we're available," adds Ahmelman, "quick chat or text – great; longer chat – cool; need a follow-up – no problem. We're here for you as long as you need support."
TIACS 0488 846 988
Lifeline 13 11 14