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How installers can cope with anxiety
Mental Health Awareness Week 2023



Anxiety can affect any one of us.
With the help of installer and mental health champion Gary Bedford, we explore the signs to look for, how to get help – and why we need to start talking


Any of us can feel anxious, at any time. And for self-employed tradespeople like our loyal installers, the stresses of a busy work life mean anxiety can be a real issue.

According to Mates in Mind, a charity raising awareness of poor mental health in the workplace, common signs of anxiety include excessive worry, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, fatigue and irritability, plus physical symptoms such as muscle tension and sweating.

Mates in Mind’s research suggests that among the mainly male community of self-employed workers in construction and related trades, over two-thirds don’t discuss their mental health with their peers due to the stigma surrounding mental illness, while almost a third live with severe levels of anxiety every day.

So, it’s vital that we start to talk more about anxiety – which is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (15-21 May 2023) – and seek help before becoming completely overwhelmed.

Gary’s story

For Staines-based installer Gary Bedford of GRB Plumbing & Heating, it’s a subject that’s close to his heart.

“My personal situation was trauma-related from a car accident I had many years ago,” says Gary.

“I thought I’d processed it at the time. But I had buried it deep, and I now know I had been tortured by PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] for years.

“This then led me to be more susceptible to anxiety and depression.”

Gary says his recovery only started when he accepted that he had problems with his mental health and needed help.

“Therapy was extremely helpful for me to unlock what was going on in my mind, understand it and finally have closure on what happened,” he says.

“I'm all about positivity now, living in the present and not the past or the future. I have so much to be grateful for and now I can see it.”


"Spotting anxiety is something we should all learn about"


Helping others

But rather than just sit back and be thankful about his own recovery, Gary became determined to raise awareness of mental health issues in the trade. Social media gave him a platform for sharing his experiences and getting others to open up.

“I was promoting my company via Twitter, where I made a lot of friends and felt comfortable enough to talk about my problems,” he recalls.

“This was a catalyst to get people talking about mental health and then led to me featuring on an episode of The Vaillant Podcast on the subject. I'd like to think it got lots of people talking and started some others on their own path to recovery.”

Getting men talking

One of the biggest issues for blokes struggling with anxiety is the perceived stigma surrounding mental health, which can prevent them asking for help.

“Spotting anxiety is something we should all learn about,” says Gary. “It can be hard sometimes – we hide it well by going back within ourselves and retracting from everyday life. On the flip side, it can be very visible, with outbursts of emotion and physical side effects.

“A simple ‘how are you?’ could go a long way and ignite some conversation.”

However anxiety might manifest itself, accepting you’ve got a problem and seeking help is the number one bit of advice from Gary.

“Your only regret will be that you didn’t do it sooner,” he says. “Personally, mindfulness and meditation have been amazing for me and given a stillness to a fast-paced life.

“Good diet, exercise and cold showering also do wonders for me. They’re very simple things that I feel give me the tools to deal with the stress modern life can bring.”

Tips for tackling anxiety in the workplace from Mates in Mind

Open up

Asking for help isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength. So, it’s essential to talk about mental health to break down stigma, increase awareness and encourage others to seek support.

Help your pals

In the workplace or when with your mates, take positive action by looking out for people and offering support whenever needed.

Be a supportive boss

If you’re an employer, creating a supportive workplace where your staff feel empowered to seek help if they need it, without fear of discrimination, is crucial.

Start a conversation

Just by asking ‘how are you?’, friends and colleagues might feel empowered to reach out and talk.

Where to get help

Don’t suffer with anxiety in silence – seek help with your GP or visit these online resources…