Why is mental health the subject for this year’s Quality Plumber Week?

John Thompson, CEO of APHC
John Thompson, CEO of APHC

The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) runs Quality Plumber Week (7-13 October), introduced here by APHC CEO John Thompson, who is also a volunteer listener with the Samaritans.

Each year, Quality Plumber Week focuses on a key subject. This year the week is focusing on mental wellbeing as plumbing and heating contractors form part of the construction industry in which male site workers are three times more likely to take steps to end their life as compared with males in the general population.

Whilst there have been mental health campaigns targeted towards the construction industry, the focus of these campaigns have predominately been towards large national employers. Quality Plumber Week aims to target small companies and sole traders within the plumbing and heating industry with specific advice for their working situation as many sole traders and owners of small companies face a wealth of pressure throughout the working day, which for many, continues into the evening as this is the only time they have to deal with the administration aspect of running a company which can include producing quotations, making payments, doing VAT returns and bookkeeping.  Dealing with these work pressures inevitably means their work-life balance isn’t always in check which then becomes an additional pressure.

Lee Woodgate a 33 year old self-employed Plumbing & Heating Engineer and co-founder of MENtalk spoke with APHC about his experiences of dealing with his own mental wellbeing.

He said: “Running your own business is hard work and being a sole-trader you have no one to turn to for advice or support. You can’t escalate problems to a manager or delegate technical queries to a senior engineer. Plus you have to be the receptionist, sales manager and bookkeeper in addition to being the engineer. And when you get home after a long day all you want to do is switch off, but sometimes you can’t.  You have emails to reply to, quotations to deal with and customers to speak with.

“I became self-employed for greater flexibility and freedom, not to be a millionaire, but it can be hard to not let work dominate your life when it’s your business, your name and reputation on the line if you don’t take that call at 7pm or late night emergency callout.

Quality Plumber Week 2019 therefore aims to assist in raising awareness of the need for plumbing and heating contractors to place a focus on their own mental health and wellbeing.  We are working with the Samaritans to be able to provide practical information and advice to people working in the plumbing and heating industry on spotting issues associated with mental health and wellbeing in either themselves or co-workers, and where and how they can gain support.

Installers and manufacturers can get involved with Quality Plumber Week by joining the conversation at #QPW19 on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and by using the QPW19 logo as their social media profile image, which can be downloaded from www.QualityPlumberWeek.co.uk.

MENTalk have a Facebook Group where men can express how they’re feeling and seek help from other group members who are experiencing similar issues with their mental wellbeing.

If you’re finding life tough, you can call Samaritans 24/7 on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.