Boot the Blues: How A Pair of Blue Boots Are Supporting Tradie’s Mental Health
This month Steel Blue is celebrating a massive milestone: their Blue Boots have raised a whopping $300,000 for Beyond Blue.
In just 25 years, Steel Blue has gone from the humble beginnings of five Aussie blokes with a vision, to a global safety boot manufacturer with distribution to over 40 countries.
But if you think creating the most comfortable occupational footwear on the market is their sole purpose, think again. After recognising that some of the highest levels of mental health illness and suicide were found among their customer base of tradies, FIFO and construction workers, they wanted to try and make a difference.
In 2014, Steel Blue partnered with Beyond Blue to support the Beyond Blue Support Service – mental health professionals providing free, immediate, and confidential counselling, advice and referrals over the phone as well as online. For the eight years since, Steel Blue has directly donated $10 from every pair of men’s and ladies’ Blue Boots sold to Beyond Blue’s efforts.
Steel Blue Chief Executive Garry Johnson said while the $300,000 was a massive milestone to be celebrated he was equally proud of the awareness the Blue Boots have created and the conversations they have started between mates in the workplace.
“Steel Blue has now sold over 38,000 pairs of men’s and women’s Blue Boots, supporting over 6,250 contacts to the Beyond Blue Support Service and providing Aussies with 24/7 access to a trained mental health professional.
“The take-up to date has been phenomenal, and we’re exceptionally proud of this $300,000 milestone and all of our boot wearers who have whole-heartedly gotten behind the initiative.
“The packaging of the boots very deliberately contains mental health resources so you can support yourself, a workmate, relative or friend. These boots are conversation starters and we wanted to make sure those conversations led to a person who might be struggling, knowing how to access help.
“The reality is, most tradies are men, and we know that every day in Australia approximately seven men die by suicide. We also know that men are far less likely to seek help for mental health conditions than women.
“This is retail therapy in the very real sense of the word – our boots are available from your local workwear store and will provide much-needed support to someone who’s doing it tough. We’re literally trying to help tradies boot the blues in the most practical way we know.”
Beyond Blue CEO Georgie Harman said the long-standing partnership with Steel Blue continues during a crucial time in Australia.
“Steel Blue’s support is so vital, especially at a time when people across the nation continue to feel the effects of the pandemic,” Ms Harman said.
“Monthly demand for Beyond Blue’s support services remains between 20 to 30 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, so we are extremely grateful to Steel Blue for supporting our work.
“When I started at Beyond Blue seven years ago a pair of Steel Blue’s Blue Boots were waiting for me. I’ve worn them proudly at many Beyond Blue community events, from inner cities to visiting mining sites in the Pilbara. They always spark conversations about mental health and those chats help smash the stigma and remind everyone support is available.”
Steel Blue is the only Aussie safety boot manufacturer endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA), another important Blue Boots partner.
APA’s Chair of Occupational Health Deb Sutherland said that Steel Blue’s Blue Boots initiative tied in perfectly with the APA’s Tradies National Health Month in August each year, raising awareness of the importance of tradies’ health.
“Physiotherapists are often the first point of contact for injuries, placing them in the prime position to identify signs of poor mental health, provide support and encourage tradies to seek appropriate professional help.
“We don’t just provide tradies with treatment, exercise, and education on how to manage injuries and what can be done at work to reduce the risk of injury – we’re also well equipped to help them reach their best mental as well as physical shape.”
During this Tradies National Health Month, the APA is encouraging tradies to focus on their physical and mental health and tradies’ friends, family members and employers to consider what they can do to help tradies towards better health outcomes.
“Whether on an individual or company-wide basis, people never know the difference a simple chat or a bit of awareness raising may make; it can save lives by simply breaking down the stigma around mental health.”
To mark this milestone, Garry Johnson, CEO of Steel Blue and Georgie Harman, CEO of Beyond Blue have a message to thank everyone who has supported this vital initiative, view the video here.
The Beyond Blue Support Service can be reached on 1300 224 636 or via email and webchat at www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support