IGA partners with HSE on Working Minds campaign to aid mental health

The Independent Garage Association (IGA) and other branches of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) have joined forces with automotive industry charity Ben and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Working Minds campaign to tackle work-related stress in the repair sector.

Statistics published by HSE show in 2020/21, of the 1.7 million workers suffering from a work-related illness, 822,000 were due to stress, depression or anxiety. Work-related stress and poor mental health is therefore fast becoming a health and safety crisis for workplaces, according to the regulator. 

The National Body Repair Association (NBRA) and the commercial Vehicle Body Repair Association (VBRA), together with the IGA and Ben, have become Working Minds campaign partners to champion the prevention of stress and poor mental health in the motor repair sector.

Managing stress and mental health

All employers no matter the size of the business have a legal duty to protect workers from stress and poor mental health and wellbeing at work. This can be done by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. The Working Minds campaign, led by HSE with the support of partners, helps businesses to recognise and respond to the signs of stress at work.

“We are calling for a culture change across Britain’s workplaces where managing stress and talking about how people are coping is as routine as managing workplace safety,” commented Alison Wellens, interim head of Health and Work Branch at HSE. “Even before the pandemic took hold, it was estimated that mental health issues cost UK employers up to £45 billion a year.

“We are delighted to have our new partners on board to champion Working Minds for smaller businesses. They will play an important role in sharing key information as well as provide essential insight into the unique stressors experienced by people working in associated motor trades as we continue to evolve our campaign.”

Frank Harvey, Head of Member Services at IGA added: “Despite increased awareness around mental health in recent years, people can still feel like they need to suppress their stress and mental health struggles in the workplace out of embarrassment or fear of looking weak. Not only is this damaging for long-term mental and physical health, but no-one should struggle alone.

“The IGA is proud to support Working Minds, as campaigns like this can help people to realise that they can reach out to their employer without judgement. Help is readily available and seeking support can lift the huge burden often felt by those struggling with their mental health.”

Important recognition

Awareness of mental health issues has grown in recent years, especially since the impact of COVID-19. From being something people struggled to talk about, today more and more are opening up about their feelings. Therefore, having the right support available is becoming more crucial.

“Working with industry employers and raising awareness has never been more important to ensure people struggling with their mental health and wellbeing can get the support they need,” commented Rachel Clift, Health and Wellbeing Director at Ben. “Currently, one in three individuals contacting Ben’s helpline for support are referrals from their employer. Of these, 60% are looking for support with their mental health, which demonstrates how prominent this issue is in the automotive industry.

“Mental health issues amongst your workforce could also be impacting the overall health of your business. For example, if you run a body shop with 10 employees, our figures show that poor mental health could be costing you around £10,000 – £15,000 a year. Therefore, it is in everyone’s interests to take better care of each other and to encourage colleagues and employees to access help when they need it.”

Working Minds is aimed specifically at supporting small businesses by providing employers and workers with easy to implement advice, including simple steps to Reach out, Recognise, Respond, Reflect, and make it Routine.

For more information about the campaign, including the legal obligations, advice, and tools available, visit: workright.campaign.gov.uk/campaigns/workingminds.

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