It’s ok not to be ok. Despite all of the stigmas on site and the banter and the laddy jokes, it is important to remember that it is ok not to be ok. But why are we focusing so much on this?

Well, because last year, 5,000 people in the UK took their own lives. And, 75% of these were men.

A shocking statistic, every suicide is a tragedy, but, in a sector as male-dominated as the construction industry, the statistics relating to men are particularly staggering. Suicide continues to be the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50. And, not only that but in construction, there are 10 times as many deaths from suicide as there are accident-related deaths in the industry. In fact, the construction industry has the highest rate of suicide of any profession!

From the job security worries to the long hours, working away and all the stigmas surrounding mental health, something needs to change. Well, construction worker Ian Dryden is trying to do just that. Attempting climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Ian wants to raise awareness of mental health and show people that it truly is ok not to be ok.

But why is mental health so important to Ian?

Well, a few months ago, Ian’s life imploded when his marriage of 10 happy years ended.  He described that at that moment, “I saw no way out of the hole I was in.”

“I didn’t ask for any of this.”

“My self-esteem was at an all-time low.”

“I felt worthless and I had no fight left in me.”

He continued, “I sat on the sofa of my living room looking at a picture on the wall of my family and decided at that moment the best thing for everyone was if I wasn’t here anymore.”

“I contemplated various ways and once I had settled on a plan I sat plucking up the courage to carry it out and then just going for a very long walk.”

“In that moment I happened to look at that very same picture but this time seeing my boy’s smiles.”

“The joy and happiness in their faces.”

“So, I picked up the phone and dialled 116123 [Samaritans].”

“A lady answered and I just started talking.”

“The more I talked and cried, the more I realised that suicide was not the answer to my problems.”

“And in fact, to me, it meant I would only cause more pain for my boys and even my ex-wife.”

“So that was the start the first step forward in what has been a long journey.”

“I am determined to share my story to prove that talking and asking for help is not a sign of weakness!”

“It is okay not to be okay!”

So what’s his challenge?

Well, Ian plans to climb the highest freestanding mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro. It is also the highest mountain on the African continent as well at 5896m tall. Leaving the UK on December 26th 2019, Ian will summit the mountain on the 1st of January 2020!

He added: “I’m not just [doing this] in support of Samaritans (and raising lots of money [for them] along the way!)”

“But more importantly to try and unite the construction industry in dealing with the major issue of mental health within the workplace and telling everyone out there #itisokaynottobeokay.”

So, if you think you can help Ian in his challenge then head over to his JustGiving page here. You can also talk to him on Twitter at @IanDrydenClimbs and #IanClimbsKMJ. Or, show your support in the comments below!

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