Stress: it’s something that’s very difficult to avoid and sometimes even more difficult to manage. Working in the decorating industry brings certain stresses that friends and family outside of the trade may not understand, which makes it even more of a challenge to know where to turn for help. In light of this, Decorators Forum UK has teamed up with The Dulux Academy this Stress Awareness Month to acknowledge this issue and share ways in which it can be alleviated.
Last year, industry research found that 91% of tradespeople experience work-related stress at least once a month, while 50% experience mental health issues due to their job. This is backed up by Dulux Academy research carried out pre-pandemic, which found that 84% of decorators experience the impact of mental health struggles while working. This is why stress awareness for decorators is so important.
The numbers seem shocking, but there are many elements to working in decorating that can lead to these issues. Take being self-employed for example, which carries a lot of pressure. You have a name to live up to, a business to maintain, and clients to keep. Anything going wrong on the job could have a knock-on effect on any of these ambitions. And if something does go wrong, this can then impact other jobs, leading to a lack of punctuality and a nagging feeling at the back of your mind.
Even coming out of jobs can be hard. Sometimes there are no clear boundaries between work and home life, as jobs can take longer than expected, tools need to be cleaned, and admin tasks are left until ‘evenings off’. Working late also makes it hard to switch off at night, resulting in sleepless nights and anxieties about the work ahead.
Time to talk
As daunting as it sounds, decorators can take comfort that they are not alone in this situation. Dulux Academy research found that one in two decorators had struggled with their mental health in the past five years. While this is a saddening statistic, it also comes with a hope that other decorators know how it feels to struggle with their mental wellbeing.
Talking about mental health is always a good starting point when it comes to alleviating stress. However, more must be done to encourage this behaviour among the wider trade, with 45% of professional painters and decorators not being open to asking for support according to Dulux Academy research. Finding like-minded decorators to communicate with on shared struggles can be incredibly beneficial, as proven by the success of the Decorators Forum UK and Dulux Academy and Dulux Select Decorators Facebook groups. Dulux Academy Skills Development Consultant, Mark Rigby, says: “Not only are these forums a great source of information to help you with problems you may be encountering, but also give you a sense of belonging and reassurance that there is someone to reach out to when you need it. You can also gain a great sense of wellbeing if you’re able to help someone else and sometimes, that’s just as important.”
While speaking about personal issues may seem like a bit of a hurdle to start with, the benefits very much outweigh that anxious feeling. A problem shared is a problem halved, as the old saying goes, and even just having a discussion about work-related stresses may help you gain greater control of the situation.
For decorators looking to spot the signs of mental health issues in their colleagues and fellow tradespeople, Dulux Academy runs a Mental Health First Aid course, designed to provide professionals with knowledge on how to identify and support those affected by poor mental health and stress. By creating an environment where mental health issues are acknowledged and destigmatised, mental health first aiders help make the decorating industry a more enjoyable and accepting place to work. Those interested in signing up can do so here. The next course takes place on 12th May at the Dulux Academy in Slough.
Taking a time-out
When there’s so much going on, taking a day away from the ‘office’ may not be the first solution that springs to mind. However, an effective way of managing time and admin is to take housekeeping days – and as crazy as it sounds, this is something that works particularly well for those who don’t feel they have time for it. Decorators who feel under pressure to get work done constantly can forget about the other important elements of the job, such as cleaning tools and the van, organising materials, planning ahead, organising quotes, and admin. Taking a day out to focus on these things helps hit the ‘reset’ button and gives a clearer outlook on the jobs ahead.
Remember – you’re not alone
As Dulux Academy research revealed, the stigma surrounding mental health is the main reason decorators don’t discuss it or ask for help. It’s clear the main solution to combatting the mental health problem that plagues the industry is acknowledgement, open conversation and support among all those working in the trade. To do this, decorators must recognise their own struggles and do what they feel is right for their own mental health, while also looking out for their fellow tradespeople who may be struggling. Becoming part of the Dulux Select Decorators scheme allows decorators to begin important conversations by giving them the opportunity to join a community of like-minded tradespeople who can communicate openly at social events and on the online forum. Those who have attended Dulux Academy courses – such as the Mental Health First Aid course – can also find support via the Facebook group, which offers tips, tricks and advice on upcoming jobs. The DFUK forums are also open to all decorators and are a great way of communicating with fellow tradespeople and offering – as well as receiving – support. In addition, decorators can reach out to charities for help, such as the Rainy Day Trust – a specialist charity that supports those who have worked in the home improvement and enhancement industries – and The Lighthouse Club, which provides emotional, physical and financial wellbeing support to construction workers and their families.