Cost of living crisis is leading cause of stress for tradespeople


MORE than four in five (84%) UK tradespeople experience mental health problems due to work-related issues, a new study has found.

The research was commissioned by IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (May 15 – 21).

It found that more than two-thirds (68%) of tradespeople experience some form of mental health problem – such as stress, anxiety, or depression – every month, and sadly more than a quarter (30%) feel symptoms every single week. Both statistics are higher than the study carried out this time last year.

Whilst financial worries remain among the leading causes of stress, the wider cost-of-living crisis is now the number one concern – with almost two in five (39%) saying it’s affecting their mental health. Almost two in five (39%) workers are now doing extra shifts as a result, risking burnout.

The rising cost of materials is now also amongst the main stressors (36%), and tradespeople recently ranked the issue as the biggest challenge facing the industry in 2023.

The top 10 most common causes of stress for tradespeople are:

# Issue %
1 Cost of Living crisis 39%
2 Rising cost of materials 36%
3 Finances 28%
4 Tensions with customers 20%
5 Doing the best job you can for customers 17%
6 Job security 14%
7 Tensions with suppliers 13%
8 Risk of catching Covid-19 12%
9 Making mistakes at work 12%
10 Too much work 12%

Unfortunately, despite the benefits of doing so, more than four in five (84%) tradespeople don’t feel comfortable talking to others about their feelings. Just one in six (17%) have spoken to friends or family about their mental health.

Furthermore, one in ten (10%) worry what their colleagues would think if they told them what they were going through, and more than a quarter (27%) feel they can’t take time off work for mental health reasons.

Builders are the most likely tradespeople to feel stressed or anxious on a daily basis (16%), but overall, mental health problems are most common amongst surveyors. Almost all of those surveyed (98%) say they experience issues at least once a year.

The trades that are most and least likely to experience mental health issues at least once a year are:

# Trade %
1 Building surveyor 98%
2 Carpenter 93%
3 Locksmith 92%
4 Caretaker 87%
5 Electrician 83%
6 Builder 82%
7 Joiner 80%
8 Scaffolder 80%
9 Window fabricator 80%
10 Plumber 74%
11 Landscaper 74%
12 Painter decorator 72%


As part of their campaign to raise awareness of mental health amongst tradespeople, IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect are partnering with Basildon Mind, the mental health charity, and is donating over £5,000 to support its vital services.

Emma Mamo, head of workspace wellbeing at Mind, said, “In male-dominated industries such as construction, employees are often less willing and able to open up about their mental health and ask for support. This can be problematic because mental health problems often become worse if left untreated, and the consequences can be fatal.

“We urge employers to create cultures where employees can speak openly and honestly about their mental health.”

Dominick Sandford, MD at IronmongeryDirect and ElectricalDirect, added, “It’s been an incredibly difficult few years for the country, and the current cost of living crisis is certainly taking its toll on many people. Our research shows that the trade industry and its brilliant people have been hit hard, and mental health problems are common.

“As difficult as it might seem at first, it’s incredibly important that you talk to someone about your feelings, whether that’s your partner, a friend or family member, a colleague, or a professional. This can open the door to getting help and starting to address the problems you’re facing.”