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THE HIDDEN COST OF POOR MENTAL HEALTH IN OUR TRADE

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THE HIDDEN COST OF POOR MENTAL HEALTH IN OUR TRADE


By Rebecca Watt – Technician at Avia Sports Cars

According to research carried out by the World Health Organisation, one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Only one in eight of those with a mental health problem are receiving help or treatment. Maybe that’s because they do not know what help is out there, or maybe they think it is not important or serious enough. There are many reasons why someone with an issue such as anxiety or depression may not get the help they need.

The truth is, everyone is affected by mental health at least once in their lives. Although women are more likely to be affected, men are three times as likely to take their own lives. There are about 6,000 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland each year and men make up about three quarters of this figure.

Now you’re probably thinking: what has this got to do with the Motor Industry? In fact, the garage trade is particularly affected by instances of poor mental health. Years of heavy lifting, chasing bills and complaining customers can take their toll, but there are many other reasons why an individual who has previously been fine can change to being ‘not okay’ in a short time.

Stress

Stress can build up and affect things like productivity, quality of work and physical health. Consider a lean management system, like any used in production factories and distributor’s warehouses. If any issue, no matter how slight is detected, the problem will be flagged and managers will work to resolve the issue as efficiently as possible. If a problem with a machine or industrial system is fixed so quickly, why then has a government report found that 300,000 people with mental health problems lose their jobs each year? It makes no sense.

From a business point of view, it is important to ensure employees are aware of the help available to them. People spend most of their time in the workplace, so giving employees the basic need of connection and being cared for will have a greater impact on their lives and will only then benefit the company. Employees will respond to this and work to their full potential. Studies have shown that 12.7 percent of all sickness absence days in the UK can be linked to mental health conditions. The government report showed that better mental health support in the workplace could save UK business up to £8 billion PA.

Flexible working

So what can be done in the workplace to improve mental health? A good start is if employers can embrace flexible working. Allowing staff to work flexible hours or schedules to suit them would give them the self-care time that they require to continue working to the best of their abilities. It is equally critical to allow employees to have their entitled time off, or holiday days away from the work environment so they can return bright eyed and bushy tailed.

People suffering with mental health problems are urged to see their GP, plus there are lots of charities that can help – Samaritans and their excellent confidential helpline for example. Specifically for our industry, there is the charity BEN which also offers a confidential support line and will work with individuals. They also offer a range of workplace awareness and engagement initiatives, training programmes and digital assets to help promote its services within companies. If you look after your employees, they will look after your company. Mental health should never be ignored.

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BEN LAUNCHES ‘GET FIT FOR WORK AND FOR LIFE’

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BEN LAUNCHES ‘GET FIT FOR WORK AND FOR LIFE’


BEN, the not-for-profit organisation, has launched its new project that aims to improve and spotlight the importance of physical health to individuals working in the automotive sector.

The ‘Get fit for work and for life’ initiative will be conducted through a number of activities throughout this year including a series of articles to improve health and wellbeing, some of which have been published on the BEN online News Hub. In addition to this, the foundation will also launch a new health programme that will be available later this year. The inventory will include checks for blood pressure test, body mass index (BMI) as well as body fat percentage and resting heart rate test based on National Health guidelines.

Speaking about the latest campaign, Zara Ross, Chief Executive at BEN said. “By focusing on preventative measures and offering advice on subjects such as healthy eating and exercise, we can help people maintain a good level of health and fitness. As part of this, we’re really excited to be launching our physical health checks later this year to support businesses in helping their employees get fit and stay fit for work and for life”.

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CATCH UP AT THE NEW BEN CARE HOME


Nigel Williams updates us on this fabulous charity:

BEN Care Home

If you ask anyone in the aftermarket if they have heard of BEN, the chances are that they will have done – and in all probability have donated to the organisation at some stage or other.

However, if you ask the same person to describe what the charity does, the chances are you will get a minute errs before a description of an ancient care home in the countryside somewhere. This will mostly be pieced from dim recollections of very old magazine articles and sepia-tinged adverts from days past.

We were curious to find out if these images were still relevant, so we paid a visit to Sunningdale, the site of the rambling Edwardian house you might have seen in some of those old pictures. The first shock is that that the building is no longer there. Indeed, on our visit a bulldozer raked through the foundations of where the house until recently stood. Next to it a complex of new buildings have taken its place. From the outside, the new buildings couldn’t be more different as they are a functional mixture of brick, steel and glass.

In fact, this gleaming new care home is one of four operated by BEN. It isn’t the only thing the organisation does either, as new man at the charity Nigel Williams is quick to point out. “We are not just a nice little charity that the industry gives a pat on the head and says ‘thanks very much’ he says. “We want to be the main channel of support in the industry – and we want to be an integral part of the industry.”

Support

BEN care homeCare homes and day centres are only part of the support that Williams talks about. Indeed, the organisation runs a helpline (referred to by Williams as a ‘lifeline’) that currently offers help and advice to free to callers. Topics typically revolve around the four ‘pillars’ of BEN’s advice, namely support for mental, physical, financial and social fitness.

Williams has bullish plans for expanding the number of people that will benefit from the service. We’ll return to this subject in a later issue as for now, we’ve got a care home to look around.

Modern

We are far more used to looking at workshop ramps or accessory shop gondolas than walk-in wetrooms or elevating beds. However, it is clear that the facility is the most modern of its type and different sections have been constructed around the varying needs of groups of residents. For example, a block (known as a ‘house’) designed for people with dementia features pictograms on doors as well as the word.

Colours and furniture have been picked according to the client’s groups needs and perhaps most pleasingly each unit has access to an outside courtyard space with greenery and benches. Each area has walls and doors designed so that the residents can safely enjoy their areas without fear of getting lost or encountering any significant trip hazards. There’s also a ‘high street’ area with a bar, bistro and hairdressing salon as well as a hydrotherapy pool. This area, Williams tells us is popular when relatives visit because it is similar to a day out without actually having gone very far.

There are also a number of activities for the residents to enjoy such as baking, arts and crafts and gardening.

This facility wasn’t built just from donations at black tie events. Part of the planning consent allowed for the construction of several dozen retirement flats, which given the location near Ascot raised a considerable amount of money for the construction of the entire complex.

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