Ben launches mental health initiatives

Ben launches mental health initiatives

Ben, the mental health charity for the automotive sector, has recently launched a number of initiatives to make accessing help and support for ourselves, friends and colleagues easier. Johnny Dobbyn reports on your having a friend in Ben.

Just prior to sitting down to write this report, I received an out-of-the-blue email from an old friend. I knew that he’d been having some personal problems and, not wanting to lose touch, I’d been sending him odd updates and check-ins but not getting much in return – until this email. Which informed me he’d had a “total meltdown”, had been diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and off work sick for seven months; and was in the care of NHS and charity mental health professionals.

Quite a surprise and quite an admission from him. But in the more ‘blokey’ workplaces – automotive, construction, engineering, military – entrenched scepticism regarding mental illness can be found and men especially, but also women, often feel the need to ‘front up’, gloss over their problems and not display weakness nor be thought some sort of wuss.

The trouble with this is you can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality and eventually something has to give, sometimes with tragic consequences. Take my mate: no wuss he. Time-served member of one of our ‘elite regiments’ who’d been there, done that – NI, Gulf 1, Bosnia and so on. No wuss he, but in 10 years out of the army, relationships had broken down and his employment record had become increasingly sketchy and then … “total meltdown”.

It can happen to anyone, any time and in the most robust environments. Which is where Ben comes in, providing support to automotive people and their families. It provides free and confidential online self-help, helpline and support services; whether people need help in a crisis or want help with something in particular like anxiety, depression, money worries, trouble sleeping or anything else.

Recently, Ben has launched two initiatives making it easier to engage with the charity. First of these is Ben on the Road, where the charity visits small to medium sized automotive businesses to spread the word about Ben. Visiting everyone from small workshops and parts manufacturers to independent garages and dealerships, Ben’s aim is to raise awareness about its work and encourage anyone struggling to reach out for support. Businesses can sign up for a visit at for-my-business/ben-on-the-road. It’s free of charge and there is no obligation to commit to any of Ben’s services.

Second, Ben has just launched BenWell. A pioneering wellbeing app and web portal, BenWell enables employees to measure their wellbeing and gives employers timely insight into the mental and physical health of their team. Furthermore, personalised resources are provided to each individual, tailored to their wellbeing needs.

Each month, employees spend less than 10 minutes answering a short survey. Once completed, a personal dashboard gives a view of their wellbeing and offers tailored support and guidance from experts in each area, accessed via mobile, tablet or desktop.

For the employer, while individual results are anonymised, tracking key wellbeing indicators via the dashboard gives a useful overview of how employees are feeling about life at home and work, enabling them to respond to issues quickly.

In addition to the app and web portal, the complete BenWell package also includes:

  • Access to printed wellbeing documentation on a wide range of topics for use around the workplace;
  • Access to HR Manager Lite from Lawgistics – a HR and compliance platform designed for businesses that might not have their own HR department;
  • Access to training courses to help teams build self-awareness and habits that promote mental resilience.

Matt Wigginton, Director of Partnerships at Ben, concludes: “Our most recent industry survey showed us that 94% of automotive workers have been personally affected by a health and wellbeing issue in the last 12 months. That figure is astonishing. Not only does this mean our colleagues have been struggling, but it also means that businesses are suffering too. Employee absence, reductions in productivity, low team morale – all of these things are caused by wellbeing issues and ultimately affect the health of a business.”

If you’d like to know more about Ben, register for a roadshow visit or access its services, visit or call its free and confidential helpline on 08081 311 333 (Mon- Fri 8am – 8pm).

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