Wollongong construction workers are learning that not every problem can be fixed with a "teaspoon of cement".
More than 120 workers at the Hansen Yuncken construction site at Wollongong Hospital are being taught to listen to their colleagues as part of a nationwide suicide prevention program.
The Mates in Construction program was established in Queensland six years ago in response to a major suicide report that found that suicide levels in the industry were up to two times higher than the general population.
Mates in Construction field officer Carolyn Kelso said the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention report revealed that construction workers were also six times more likely to die by suicide than through a workplace accident.
"There's a range of reasons why construction workers face difficulties, including long working hours and lack of job security," Ms Kelso said.
"Research has also showed that there's a certain culture in the industry - where workers feel unable to talk about their feelings as they're often told to 'toughen up' or 'take a teaspoon of concrete' in return.
"What the Mates in Construction program aims to do is to reduce suicide in the industry by improving the mental health and wellbeing of workers at sites across the country by encouraging them to talk to each other about issues of concern.
"It's basically about mates helping mates."
Hansen Yuncken's West Keira development site was the first regional site in NSW to achieve Mates accreditation, and the building company's Wollongong Hospital development has now followed suit.
"You achieve accreditation when 80 per cent of your workforce has done the training," Hansen Yuncken Wollongong project manager Tim Cadden said.
"We've had 124 of our 180 workers complete the training and 10 of those have gone on to do further training to become 'connectors'.
"These people are the ones other workers know they can go to if they're doing it tough and they can 'connect' them to other support services if needed."
Ash Jones and Clint Yewdall are happy to be among the connectors at the Wollongong site.
"I've worked in construction for eight years and while I'm from Melbourne, I travel interstate for different projects like this one," Mr Jones, 25 said.
"It's not an easy industry to work in - you have to travel and project work is never certain so finances are hard to organise.
"It does help to have someone to talk to who deals with the same issues and I'm happy to be here for others."
If you need help, call the Mates in Construction 24/7 helpline on 1300 642 111.