May 9, marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and this year Ben, the automotive industry charity, is shining a light on one of the leading causes of mental health issues – loneliness.
Following two years of disruption and periods of social isolation caused by the pandemic, loneliness became, in itself, an epidemic. We were all separated for long periods of time from our wider circles of friends, family and work colleagues. And, even though we are now emerging from the depths of the pandemic, it is clear that many of us have found the social restrictions hugely challenging.
Social anxiety is playing a major role in the rise of loneliness. Naturally, now that COVID restrictions have eased, social interactions are returning to ‘normal’ – but for many, a sudden return to socialising is also a daunting prospect. Social anxiety makes it difficult for people to meet socially with others, to reach out for help and to maintain relationships – which, in turn, contributes to loneliness.
Ben’s recent Health and Wellbeing survey placed this issue in sharp focus – of those in the automotive industry who were surveyed, 31% confessed to having suffered from loneliness – a huge increase of 23% from the previous year. Loneliness saw a staggering increase in the over 45s, factory workers, and among those who have retired from the industry, while 1 in 2 automotive workers confirmed that they have issues managing their mental health – indicating that mental health struggles in the automotive industry are more prevalent than in the general population.
To support those who are struggling with social anxiety and loneliness, Ben has launched a new ‘Space from Social Anxiety’ program on the SilverCloud platform – designed specifically to help people find out about symptoms, understand its causes and develop coping strategies to manage their social anxiety.
The program, as with all of Ben’s SilverCloud programs, is completely free, easy to use and can be worked through at your own pace in your own time – using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques to develop coping strategies to help deal with life’s challenges.
Rachel Clift, Health & Wellbeing Director at Ben, said: “If you suffer from loneliness, you are not alone. Our recent survey highlighted the huge impact that COVID has had on the mental health of our community and loneliness and social anxiety have risen sharply over the past twelve months.
“Our industry is one of the most affected by mental health issues, so we want everyone in the automotive community to know that while they may feel alone, they aren’t. We are here, ready to help and support them through whatever challenges life may be throwing at them right now and in the future.
“Social anxiety and loneliness can be managed and we have a number of ways we can support people who are struggling, including our new SilverCloud program ‘Space from Social Anxiety. During Mental Health Awareness week, we want to reach out to our automotive family and offer them a helping hand. You don’t have to face loneliness or social anxiety alone.”
When any member of our automotive family is struggling or in crisis, we all rally to support them.