MENTalk – How one group of installers are addressing mental health in the industry

Installer Steve Smith talks about the scourge of mental illness and the MENTalk podcasts he’s recording with fellow installers Lee Woodgate and Stephen Blair.
Mental health issues afflict one in four, but they’re rarely discussed by men. Lee, Stephen and myself are all part of the statistic of gents who suffer, but to the outside world we seem to be fairly normal guys, trying to run successful businesses to support our families.
We often feel the pressure and in reality never really switch off. After a day’s work its quote after quote, admin and invoicing, and it can take its toll. The loneliness of being a sole trader is sometimes really hard to deal with as every part of the business is your responsibility.
If you’re struggling with mental health issues on top of this and keeping it all to yourself, then you’re trapped in a vicious circle.
I met Lee and Stephen through Expert Trades, and we decided we wanted to start a public conversation about mental health, especially for men. I remember meeting Stephen and thinking: “This guy is a giant, I wouldn’t mess with him!”, but the more I got to know him, the more I saw the many layers to his personality. As for Lee, well, the guy is only about five foot five, but brimming with character.
He is someone who most people can relate to and feel comfortable with. Expert Trades really gave us the platform to meet one another as fellow tradesmen and get this open conversation started.
We spoke about how there are many organisations that cover the mental health sector and that we wanted to try and help in our own way. Being three normal guys, we decided that the best way for us to communicate was to make the conversation on mental health a little less formal. We wanted to be genuine, so people could relate to us, just like three blokes talking in a pub! We hope we can encourage people, and men in particular, to feel comfortable talking and having an honest conversation about their mental wellbeing.
Expert Trades allowed us to use its platform to record our conversation for a podcast, which we then shared with its community of trade professionals. We felt that having the backing of Adam, and his team, would give us the initial audience and we wanted to see how well it was received. The response was overwhelming, and all three of us had people contacting us to say they could relate to the podcast and thanking us for sharing our stories. For us that was an amazing feeling, as we knew that we had made a difference.
Our only purpose with the MENTalk podcast is to support and encourage people to be confident in speaking out, and to be honest with themselves and their loved ones if they are struggling. No matter how small you think your problem is, it’s so important that you speak out.
We’d love for support in sharing the podcast to get it listened to by as many people as possible, as you never know who might need to hear it the most!
Listen to MENTalk episode 1 with Steve Smith (Essential Property Services Ltd), Lee Woodgate (iGas Heating Ltd) and Stephen Blair (3T Gas Maintenance Ltd) at And search for MENTalk on Facebook to join the community.

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