The tragic and unexpected loss of a mate set two tradies on a path to get every Aussie blue collar worker talking about their mental health.
"His name was also Dan,” Dan Allen, co-founder of social impact brand, TradeMutt and the TIACS Foundation shares.
“He was one of the first mates I made when I moved to Brisbane, and it was the first time in my life that I had been affected by suicide."
Not long after Dan, together with fellow tradie Ed Ross, set down the tools and turned their talents to threads of the colourful, conversation-starting kind.
Enter TradeMutt, a social impact workwear brand that has taken Australian job sites by storm.
“It’s our mission to change the face of mental health in Australia by using bright and funky workwear as a way to start conversations and make an invisible issue impossible to ignore,” Ed said.
Four years on, the business and community have grown out of sight and the TIACS (This is a Conversation Starter) Foundation was born.
TIACS Alliance Manager, Jason Banks, said Ed and Dan couldn’t sit back after discovering just how many people were reaching out to mental health services and not always getting the help they needed.
“This is a Conversation Starter is a direct mental health support service that removes barriers to accessing professional counselling by phone or by text,” Jason said.
“The service is aimed at blue collar workers who are employed in industries with some of the highest rates of mental illness and suicide.”
Jason joined TIACS after making his own career intervention to put his mental health first.
“On a Sunday afternoon in 2018, I decided to quit,” he said. "I was on the edge of the bed, and my wife asked me, '…you're not the same person, what's going on?'"
“I’d spent the last 16 years in senior leadership roles with a national retailer in a rewarding fast-paced environment with heavy travel requirements – I just wasn't enjoying myself anymore,” Jason shared.
His path led him toward health-focused jobs working as a personal trainer and running fitness classes for the disabled, and then to TIACS after hearing about the role through a mutual friend of Ed and Dan.
“Our primary focus is building a national Alliance of like-minded organisations who are fully funding the TIACS counselling service,” he said.
"Over two years we've taken over 24,000 calls and text messages and provided more than 7000 hours of free mental health counselling support thanks to the Alliance.”
"We're pumped and humbled to have MIGAS Apprentices & Trainees on board as TIACS Alliance Members to help expand access to free mental health support to apprentices working in traditional trades and blue collar industries,” Jason said.
Organisations looking to join the TIACS Alliance can visit the website to get in touch with Jason.
The TIACS phone line is available Australia-wide, Monday to Friday from 8am-10pm AEST. If you need a yarn, whether about your mental health or simply how your day has been, call or text 0488 846 988 to speak with a counsellor.