By Yvonne Hignell, Care and Support Services Director

There’s a lot of evidence, including within our own findings, which suggests strong links between mental health issues (e.g. depression and anxiety) and social challenges (like isolation and loneliness).

Furthermore, the impact that these situations can have on a person’s physical health has also been well documented. Public Health England’s report on social isolation explains how the quality and quantity of social relationships can negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health.

Financial health challenges (such as debt issues and money worries) can also play a big part in a person’s social and mental health – if you don’t have a reliable income or a secure housing situation, it’s easy to become socially isolated, depressed or anxious.

This shows the inextricable link between the four main aspects of a person’s health and wellbeing: financial, mental, social and physical health.

Loneliness and mental health

It’s common for people to find themselves feeling alone with no-one they can talk to. People of all ages, from all walks of life, contact us to say they feel completely on their own. Loneliness and isolation affect many more people than you might think.

A study by Relate highlighted the link between loneliness and mental health issues, showing that people with good relationships had higher levels of wellbeing. On the flip side, poor relationships were found to be detrimental to health, wellbeing and self-confidence.

The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness which recently launched its ‘Spotlight on Men’ month, has said that millions of men in UK are hiding feelings of loneliness. In a male dominated industry such as automotive, loneliness is a key issue which we have highlighted in our current campaign ‘Let’s talk about social health’.

Spotlight on celebrities and mental health

The recent news about The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and their charity, Heads Together, has really helped highlight how significant life challenges such as bereavement and loneliness can impact on a person’s mental health. As part of a Heads Together campaign, the Duchess of Cambridge spoke about how lonely motherhood can be.

We think it’s very positive that mental health is becoming more widely spoken about and publicised, especially now that members of the Royal Family and celebrities such as Rio Ferdinand are opening up about their personal experiences. We are definitely starting to break down the stigma around mental health and people are finding it acceptable to talk about it. But there’s still more work to be done.

We now just need to be more aware that significant life events such as bereavement and relationship break ups can greatly impact on a person’s mental health.

Mental health and work

Although we are seeing signs of the stigma around mental health being broken down, there’s still a way to go in the workplace. Around half of us would not be happy to speak up at work if we had a mental health problem, according to a survey conducted by Comres for BBC Radio 5 live.

The survey asked 1,104 British adults in full-time employment about their attitudes to mental health. And 49% said they would be unlikely to tell their boss about problems such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. Only 35% said they’d be happy to tell colleagues.

It’s our mission to make the automotive community aware about the issues their colleagues might be facing, encourage them to talk about them, look after each other and spread the word about Ben and how we can help.

If you are a manager, then you can help us and your team by making them aware of Ben and the support we can offer them. Around 87% of people who contact Ben are of working age, so we advise those in management roles to look out for signs that they might be struggling.

Our advice: Talk about it

Whatever struggles you are facing in life, talk about it. Opening up to the people you trust – family, friends and work colleagues – can make all the difference. If you have no-one to talk to, then talk to us. We’re always here for you.

We provide information, advice, guidance and managed referrals, where appropriate, to our network of 700 partner organisations, including counsellors and mental health specialists.

You can ring our free and confidential helpline – open Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm – on 08081 311 333 or use our online chat.