16 Jun 2024

UK manufacturer spearheads mental health awareness in the industry

Mental Health Awareness

Data from market research company GWI has revealed that of 1594 UK-based manufacturing and engineering professionals surveyed, 50.3% are uncomfortable talking about their mental health.

With Mental Health a significant topic within the industry, leading springs and stampings manufacturer MSP is looking to lead the manufacturing industry to become more aware, conscious, and proactive when it comes to the mental well-being of employees.

Neil Matthews, Managing Director at MSP, said: “In the manufacturing industry, mental health challenges can be commonplace, as people are working in high-pressure environments.”

“With many of the jobs requiring long periods of high concentration, focus, and precision, the demands of the work can affect the mental well-being of employees.”

In the UK, data shows that one in six adults experiences symptoms associated with poor mental health, with work-related stress accounting for 57% of all working days lost to ill health.

Neil continued: “For employers in all industries, mental health awareness is a really important topic and we have a responsibility to ensure that employees feel supported and reassured when it comes to their mental health.”

According to Deloitte, 61% of employees that were planning to leave their jobs in 2022 cited poor mental health as the reason for leaving, with poor mental health costing employers up to £56 billion each year.

In the manufacturing industry, there are a number of challenges within the work environment that could have an impact on mental health, as the noise level in the factories, the pace of work, and the pressure to perform and meet targets can all contribute to anxiety and stress.

When not managed carefully, high levels of stress and anxiety can disrupt other aspects of life, including sleeping patterns, leading to exhaustion, low mood, and feeling overwhelmed or isolated. In some cases, this can result in burnout, depression, and absenteeism from work.

Neil said: “When you are experiencing symptoms of mental ill health, it can become challenging to come into work and remain productive. When this happens, it can create a downward cycle as you feel overwhelmed and behind with work, while continued time off can cause financial pressure and anxiety.”

Mental health can still be viewed as a stigmatised topic, especially in the workplace, and this can also make it challenging for employees to recognise mental ill health, feel able to discuss it, or feel comfortable reaching out for help.

Neil said: “To support the mental health and well-being of your employees, you need to create a supportive environment where workers feel able to approach and discuss any concerns they may have. Consider introducing the following as a way to open dialogue about mental health in your workplace.”

Prioritise mental health and well-being training

The nature of a manufacturing job can result in employees experiencing higher levels of anxiety, with GWI data finding that 25.5% of manufacturing professionals describe themselves as being prone to anxiety.

Employers could look to introduce training for the workforce on how to deal with stress and anxiety, manage their workloads, and organise around their deadlines. This could help employees that are currently struggling and introduce better working practices for the entire business, to help move towards a more productive and positive workforce.

Neil commented: “For managers, consider introducing mental health training so that they can learn how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and understand the best way to approach and support employees.”

Schedule regular check-ins

As 18.7% of manufacturing professionals reported feeling overworked, scheduling regular check-ins between management and employees could help to identify when workloads are overwhelming or if an employee is struggling with their tasks.

Neil said: “By organising a dedicated and regular time slot to check in with an employee, you are naturally creating an environment where employees feel able to open up and discuss any concerns or problems they might be having. This may help managers to recognise if workloads are overwhelming, and provide solutions and support to help employees meet deadlines.”

“Even if they have no concerns, it can help to improve employees’ morale and well-being to have that dedicated time to discuss what’s on their mind and take a moment away from their workloads. It can also be a great time for managers to provide advice, explore new ways of working, and collaborate with their employees.”

Provide mental health resources

Finally, part of creating a healthy working environment is to make employees aware of relevant and useful resources which might help them individually. This could include free access to counselling sessions, support programmes, or downloadable guides, plans, and top tips.

By providing access to resources like this, employers are actively showing recognition and awareness of mental health in the workplace, and provide employees with vital access to support and guidance.

Neil concluded: “By recognising the mental health challenges in the manufacturing industry, we can all work together to do more for our workforce and create progressive change for the industry as a whole.”

“Introducing measures like these is a positive move towards a healthier and more productive work environment, helping employees feel more supported and valued.”