Automotive industry is clubbing together to remove stigma of mental health issues – Car Dealer Magazine

Businesses and charities across the automotive sector are working together to break down barriers around mental health problems, which have a major effect on people working in the industry.

According to the automotive industry charity Ben, in 2021 mental health issues represented 52 per cent of its helpline inquiries, with 53 per cent of its survey participants saying that mental health and well-being issues had the biggest impact on them in the past 12 months.

But companies large and small are working to break down the stigma surrounding mental health issues in an industry that in many areas is male-dominated, with young men in particular singled out as the most common victims of suicide and self-harm.

A breakdown and recovery company in Somerset is one of the less-well-known companies that is leading the charge for better mental health, with the formation of Rusty Road 2 Recovery (RR2R).

Founded by mechanics Vince Davies, John Goss and Scott Goldsmith, RR2R is a mental health and well-being care in the community scheme operated on a not-for-profit basis.

John and Scott were both carers for Vince, pictured third from the right, who has struggled for most of his life with mental health challenges.

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While the day-to-day business involves roadside recovery and vehicle repair, Vince’s thinking in forming RR2R was that people suffering with mental health illness feel as if they have ended up on the scrapheap themselves.

His vision was to create a spin-off of the business to restore classic cars alongside people suffering with mental health problems.

‘When you look at national statistics, one in four people have suffered from mental health problems, and suicide is responsible for the deaths of three times as many men under 50 as those killed on our roads. A truly shocking statistic,’ he said.

‘We do what we do because we are passionate about helping people with their mental health and well-being, and it’s not about the money, although we do need it to pay the rent, energy bills and so on.

Lewis Warren says people shouldn’t feel uncomfortable talking about mental health issues

‘Every penny that comes into Rusty Road 2 Recovery is used to help people with their mental health.

‘We have a policy to never say no to anyone, and as you can imagine, this is very difficult, especially in the current financial climate.’

Since its inception, RR2R has worked on a range of classic cars from a Mini to a Dodge Ram pick-up.

It often gets referrals from the NHS and GP surgeries for the help it offers, as well as from youth groups and self-referrals.

A much higher-profile advocate of mental health support is online used car marketplace CarGurus, which in 2020 created its online Driving The Difference support centre to help people in the industry who are facing mental health challenges, in association with Ben.

Wendy Harris, vice-president of European sales at CarGurus, said: ‘We’re proud to be working with Ben to provide important resources to help our dealer partners and their staff that might be struggling with stress and anxiety.

‘It is also critical to raise awareness of the amazing work that Ben does.’

Earlier this year, Car Dealer spoke to Lewis Warren, founder of clothing and car culture brand Takona, about mental health issues.

He believes that the car industry, from the sales floor to head office level, is uniquely placed to drive change against what he refers to as the ‘toxic culture’ endemic in certain workplace structures.

‘Our mission is to change the culture around conversation, making it okay to talk when things get tough,’ he said.

‘It really is okay to talk, but only if the right people accept that they can – and should – listen.’

This article is in the latest edition of Car Dealer – issue 177 – which is packed with news, views, reviews and much more! Click here to read and download it for free!

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