Wellbeing at Work – Torque Bike Webinar
As a responsible employer, it’s important to safeguard your employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. But knowing how to support mental health in the workplace can be difficult. This is especially the case in male-dominated industries, such as the motorcycle dealership sector.
For this reason, Torque Bike’s Ben Bethell teamed up with Dan Belton of the Norfolk & Waveney Wellbeing Service and co-host Lucy Mowatt to find out how employers’ can support their workers, and what steps they can take to signpost them to helpful services.
Click on the video below to watch the discussion in full, or read the transcript below.
Lucy: Hello and welcome to the first Torque Bike webinar for 2023. My name is Lucy and I provide marketing support to both the Torque Bike team and the wider One Broker Group.
As independent insurance brokers with experience working with motorcycle dealerships, the Torque Bike team wants to provide as much support and value to your business as possible, so these webinars are designed to provide practical and helpful information to aid with the running of your business.
This first 30-minute session will focus on the subject of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
We decided to make this the subject of our first session because it’s very much on people’s minds these days, with so much in the headlines about mental health. In fact, data from the automotive charity Ben’s recent survey shows that 62% of automotive workers identified low mood as the most common health & wellbeing issue they face.
But, as an employer, it can be difficult to know what to look for and how to offer support in those situations.
As such, during this session, we’ll be exploring some of the common causes of mental health challenges, the signs employers should look out for and how to approach their employees and offer support.
There will also be time set aside for your questions at the end of the webinar. Please pop these questions into the chat and we’ll come to these at the end of the session.
I’m joined on this webinar by Ben Bethell, Scheme Executive for Torque Bike, and Daniel Belton from the Norfolk & Waveney Wellbeing Service.
Ben, would you like to introduce yourself first?
Ben: Hi, I’m Ben Bethell and some of you will know me because I look after your insurances. I’ve worked for One Broker, focusing on Torque Bike, for a couple of years now. Those who know me will be aware that I really enjoy getting to know a bit more about my clients and building relationships with them. That just helps me to provide the best possible insurance advice and cover for their needs. I’m also passionate about motorbikes and (unsurprisingly) will happily talk to anyone about them. I’ve had all sorts of bikes; everything from a C90 to a Fireblade, and am most recently enjoying a recently purchased ADV350 as a commuter. It’s certainly the most practical of the current stable!
Lucy: Thanks Ben! Dan, would you like to say a few words about who you are and what you do to set the scene?
Dan: So my name is Dan and I am a psychological wellbeing practitioner at The Wellbeing Service, part of the Norfolk & Suffolk Foundation Trust NHS Service. It’s a bit of a long-winded job title and it doesn’t say a great deal about what I do, but essentially I’m trained to help people with common mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, mostly using CBT, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy based tools. That goes from individual one-to-one therapies over the phone or face-to-face but often I get out and about and do presentations about wellbeing in the workplace, which is how I ended up here today. I really enjoy it.
Lucy: Thanks Dan, that’s really great. It sounds like you have a really interesting role.
So to set the scene, Dan could you maybe explain some of the most common causes of mental health challenges in the UK today?
Dan: Mental health difficulties are caused by a wide range of factors; of course, there’s no one single factor in mental health difficulties. Some people will have more of a genetic predisposition towards mental health difficulties. You know, studies show that certain conditions in particular do tend to run in families. Part of that is genetics and obviously part is due to upbringing, so that early family environment will often teach us not just lessons, the general life lessons about how we eat and conduct ourselves, but also how we conduct ourselves as human beings and how we relate to the world so that can relate to future difficulties around depression and anxiety.
There’s obviously life factors, you know, what’s going on around you in your environment at the time. One of the things we look at in wellbeing is often a bit of a metaphor of stress being a bit little like an old-fashioned set of weighing scales.
So, on the one hand you’ve got resources like your time and attention, your money, and on the other hand you’ve got the demands on those things – so work, family life, commitments, hobbies and things you do for fun. So, hopefully most of the time those demands and resources are in balance but if there’s an increase in the demands or a decrease in the resources, there’s that imbalance and that creates stress, and one of the responses to stress can end up being development anxiety or low mood or other difficulties.
Lucy: It sounds multifaceted and, as you say, there’s lots of things to weigh up. But, given the current news cycle and trends, are you seeing any changes due to the current economic climate with people requesting help?
Dan: Yeah, for sure. Going back to those old-fashioned weighing scales, finance is going to be one of those resources and extra demand on those resources is going to create that sense of stress for a lot of people. And I think actually the media coverage of it is not always helpful. I mean sometimes it is, with helpful practical advice and support, but sometimes it creates that sense of worry and uncertainty that can feed into anxiety. So anxiety is often perpetuated by this feeling of uncertainty or the difficulty of dealing with uncertainty. The more the world is an unsafe or uncertain place, the more anxious people can become. So, it’s often not the first thing people will say to us when they come into well-being, but things around financial stress is something that is mentioned quite a lot more when we have those initial contacts with people and they’re explaining their difficulties. Yeah, definitely. I guess as well, things like war in Ukraine as well sometimes just creates that sense of uncertainty, that sense that the world is a little bit unsafe and that can feed into that anxiety.
Lucy: We certainly had a lot of that in the last couple of years with Covid…
Dan: Yeah, absolutely. I think the long-term effects of Covid are still emerging, particularly in children and adolescents, who had a terribly difficult couple of years where they were isolated from those normal routines and the normal psychosocial development of interaction with peers.
But of course, it’s not just children who were affected by that. Everybody’s routine was disrupted by Covid and what we know is as human beings we thrive on routine and structure, and that disruption to our normal coping mechanisms had a real difficult impact on how people are feeling and the effects are still being felt I think.
Lucy: Yes, it’s got a long-tail effect that’s going to last for probably years and years.
Lucy: When it comes to well-being in the workplace, are there things that employers can look out for if they think their employees are struggling? Are there any particular signs, for instance, employers can take note of?
Dan: For sure, it’s worth noting that it’s going to vary from individual to individual. Everyone’s different but there are some fairly common signs and symptoms of depression/anxiety.
The thing to look out for really are changes to the way people normally present themselves. So, tiredness and lack of energy is probably the most common symptom of low mood, of depression. So, if people are feeling really tired or they’re making some very frequent visits to the kitchen for a cup of coffee, then that might be a sign they are struggling with that tiredness or that lack of energy.
Sleep disruption is very common with any mental health difficulty, both depression and anxiety. So sometimes people will struggle to get to sleep because they’ve got worries going around and around in their minds, or negative thoughts. Sometimes people will want to sleep more. They’ll not get a restful night’s sleep and they’ll feel that lack of energy and motivation and want to pull the duvet over their heads. So, sometimes people are coming in late and that’s a pattern that people might not normally see.
A common one with anxiety is checking, reassurance seeking. If someone who is normally confident is seeking more reassurance or perhaps seeming a little bit more uncertain, then that might be a sign that they are suffering with a little bit of anxiety.
Struggling to make decisions [is another sign]. So, when you’re suffering from anxiety, that fight or flight [instinct], that adrenaline is kicking off in your body, and that interferes with your ability to think in a calm and logical way, so that’s why people run around in a little bit of a flap sometimes when they’re feeling quite anxious. So, if people are struggling to make decisions then that might be a sign of anxiety.
Lucy: That’s really interesting. We’re talking about the motor trade and motorcycle industry, and it’s very male-dominated, so maybe being able to spot those signs is probably quite helpful for employers if they think someone is acting a bit differently but don’t necessarily know why.
Dan: The other thing is that sometimes people will not necessarily realise that they are suffering from stress or anxiety. Sometimes it actually helps to have an external person say ‘you seem a little bit stressed at the moment, is there any particular reason for that?’. Because often it’s those physical symptoms that people will notice first; they’ll notice having headaches, or they’re feeling really tired and lethargic, but they won’t necessarily connect that with feeling a little bit anxious or low, and actually someone saying ‘is something going on there?’, that can be a helpful prompt to give that bit of reflection.
Lucy: And actually you’ve pre-empted my next question, which is what can employers do if they suspect someone is struggling or is facing challenges? What are the steps you’d recommend?
Dan: It’s really tricky as an employer, I think, because the last thing you’d want to do is single someone out. But, actually, with mental health it’s important to be open to having these conversations on a personal level as much as a professional level. And I’d always say don’t ever be afraid of approaching someone; try and make it as informal as possible if you’re worried about how someone might react and just say ‘I’ve noticed X, I’ve noticed that you’ve seemed a little bit tired recently, how are you feeling? Is anything in particular going on?’. And open up that conversation, it might be that people don’t want to talk, that’s perfectly natural and often the case.
It’s very difficult in more male-dominated environments where perhaps the instinct is not to talk or communicate about feelings, but opening that door and showing that it’s ok to have these conversations in the workplace environment or anywhere is really important.
Lucy: And obviously you work for the Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing Service, how can teams like yours help people who might be struggling and can employers maybe signpost that there are resources out there?
Dan: Yeah, for sure, so the Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing Service was until recently called an IAP service, an Improving Access to Psychological Therapy Service, but I think they decided that that was one too many acronyms, so now it’s an NHS Talking Therapies service, a quite recent development. But there are NHS Talking Therapies Services across every area, or at least across Wales and England, in Scotland the set-up is slightly different I believe.
I think people sometimes don’t realise they can access free talking therapies, that these services are here all over the country and we provide a range of services. So we can do individual talking therapy one-to-one over the phone or by video call, but we try to do a range of ways of accessing things so it’s as easy as possible. We also offer webinars, almost like an online lecture but you have the ability to ask questions via a chat, so that can be quite informal and quite an easy way of getting information about how you can better your mental health.
In Norfolk and Waveney Wellbeing, we offer direct access workshops too. You can literally go onto our website and book onto them and we cover a range of topics like improving your sleep and tools for dealing with anxiety, just some basic things that can help with your mental health because what we know is that if we improve one area of our lives, even just a little bit, that can have a massively beneficial impact on other areas of your life.
Take sleep, for example. We all know that if you have a crummy night’s sleep, you feel pretty rotten the next day and that it can really affect you, but if you do some fairly basic things to improve your sleep it can have a massively beneficial effect on how you’re feeling.
Generally, people can refer themselves to these NHS talking therapies services. That’s another thing to be aware of; you don’t necessarily need to go to your GP. You can refer yourself, usually online or over the phone. You can literally just Google ‘NHS Talking Therapies’ and your locality and you’ll find the number for that particular service.
Lucy: I think we’ve touched on this before, but I think there are workshops you can set up for employers as well, is that right?
Dan: Yeah, absolutely. That’s again not necessarily a service that all NHS Talking Therapy Services will offer but for organisations in Norfolk and Suffolk, we offer a wide range of face-to-face workshops. We can go into schools and do successful study workshops, [go into] workplaces and do wellbeing in the workplace, or provide an improving your sleep or anxiety toolkit. I was at the WI last year and did some workshops with them, which was really fun in the evenings. I got some tea and cakes out of that!
Lucy: It’s always good, I like to be paid in cake!
Dan: Why not? If you're there it’s kind of rude to refuse, isn’t it?!
Ben: One more if I can? We’re obviously now in a situation where we’re using this kind of forum far more. Is that something that’s a benefit or a blocker in terms of discussions around mental health?
Dan: It’s an interesting one. I mean, I think people do have certain expectations around therapy and they’re not always founded. I think there’s always the sort of image of a talking therapy being someone lying on a couch in an office with someone looking very professorial with leather patches on their jacket, and it’s usually not like that.
Actually, the evidence suggests that delivering therapy remotely either through video call or over the phone or online is equally as effective. The key is finding something that works for that individual. So most NHS talking therapies will try and offer a range of options to suit the individual because, of course, some people might think that they prefer a face-to-face appointment, but having said that the downside of that face-to-face interaction is you might have to travel 45 minutes to find the right hub where you can access that, whereas over the phone or online it’s actually quite simple to access that therapy. So, yeah, actually, we’ve found it increases the range of possibilities for people to be able to access that.
Ben: Good, thanks Dan.
Lucy: We do have one question from the audience before we sign off. What do people do if they suspect it’s an emergency and someone is maybe at risk of harming themselves? Do you have any tips for what would happen in that situation?
Dan: Yeah, that is a really good question. So, what I would say is it’s really not unusual when you are having difficulties with anxiety or with low mood to have thoughts that life might not be worth living or of hurting yourself in some way. So those thoughts in and of themselves are not necessarily something to worry about. So sometimes people will really really worry if they have that sort of thought while driving along [and thinking] ‘I could just drive off the road' or something like that. Actually, those thoughts are not necessarily a problem or something to worry about, but if you feel you might act on those thoughts or you feel unsafe or that somebody else might be at risk or unsafe, it is really important to seek some support. The sooner you get the support, the better the outcome is going to be.
We always recommend people contact their GP at the earliest possible opportunity. I realise it is really difficult getting hold of a GP sometimes, but, in theory at least if you say you’re having thoughts of ending your life or harming yourself, you should be able to get an emergency appointment on the day. And it might not necessarily be the GP who will be supporting you, but the GP can then access those emergency or crisis mental health services. If it’s outside your GP’s business hours, NHS 111 will likewise have that ability to refer into those emergency mental health services, if that’s necessary.
Now, some people might worry about being taken away by men in white coats at that point. Honestly, that is not what happens. It's a much more helpful response at that point. There are also other services, sort of talking services. Samaritans is available 24 hours a day throughout the course of the year, so you can call 116123 to access the Samaritans.
And if you struggle picking up the phone, sometimes people don’t want to see or speak to anybody, there’s a text messaging-based support line, a little bit like the Samaritans, called Shout. Again, 24 hours a day throughout the year, you text the word ‘Shout’ to 85258 and that can be a really helpful source … sometimes just offloading, you just need to have that communication. Hopefully that helps.
Lucy: Thank you so much. I think that’s really, really helpful and will be helpful to lots of people. That sort of wraps it up, almost bang-on half an hour. Dan, where can people find out about the N&SW?
Dan: The easiest way to do it is just to go to good old Google and look up ‘Norfolk and Suffolk Wellbeing’. I won’t try to give you the website address because I don’t remember it but there’s loads of information available on our website, so look us up there.
And there’s even some stuff that people out of the area can access, things like podcasts about mental health or information about mental health or wellbeing, so check that out. Or Google NHS Talking therapies and your area (i.e. Essex) will get you to that local service as well.
Lucy: Thank you. And Ben did you want to… just so people can find out about Torque Bike?
Ben: Yes, so again Google’s your best bet. If you just put ‘Torque Bike’ into Google, you’ll find us very quickly. The website again has got lots of resources, obviously not around mental health but around insurance and related issues. So, yeah, give us a search and if you need anything pick up the phone.
Lucy: Thank you. Thanks for joining us and I look forward to the next webinar.
Find out more about Torque Bike
If you’d like to discuss the insurance for your motorcycle business, take a look at our dedicated webpage.
You can also chat to Ben and the Torque Bike team by calling 0845 467 8737.
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