It’s time to start talking: the MENable story
In this article: Mental health is a real challenge for the industry, MENable is attempting to instigate change and get people talking
The world is facing a lot of challenges at the moment: coronavirus, economic pressures to name just two examples. But there’s one that people are less willing to talk about and it’s causing problem throughout the industry. Mental health.
But unless people start opening up the problems will only grow. Which is why Steve Whitton, director of training business SSW Automotive, founded MENable, a movement to help get conversations surrounding mental health started.
“I've been in the car industry for 35 years, and in that time, I've seen lots of people with lots of issues. It's particularly rife among men, and I think it's particularly bad in men of a certain age group as well, those in their 40’s to 60’s,” says Whitton.
The seed for MENable started to grow the more conversations Whitton had with colleagues in the industry, with everyone saying the same thing: this is problem is rife across the industry and men are among the most vulnerable.
“I want it to be a movement. I want it to get people engaged in conversation, make people interested in the subject, and make it okay to open up and say; this is how I'm feeling, this is what's going on or this is what I'm worried about. And not bottling it up,” says Whitton.
MENable creates networks and platforms to make it OK for men to discuss mental health in the automotive industry. Using social media to raise awareness, local ambassadors to provide initial support and resources such as videos, stories, keynote talks, workshops and coaching, to help individuals and businesses.
MENable also uses ambassadors and advocates to provide local support through their networks and are a pivotal part in raising awareness of the challenges mental health can create.
It’s a challenge. There can often appear to be a cultural resistance to talking about mental health, and that’s something that needs to be changed if MENable is to have a lasting impact.
“We want to deal with this culturally, talking with chief executives showing the route to dealing with this is for them to take it on board and drive it through their business. That could take longer, but I don't want to be going around the industry, plugging leaks here, there, and everywhere. I want to be getting to the source and turning the tap,” says Whitton.
Mental health is an issue that is unlikely to disappear, and is an area that needs constant attention. The first hurdle is getting people talking, the second is getting the industry ready to help, hopefully Whitton and MENable can help initiate change.