It could be any van journey; a driver wants to know if his mate is still on for Friday night. But something’s wrong, the response is muted. Oh, and nestled between the pair, is a full-sized elephant.
The elephant in the room, on more accurately, in one of our Transit vans, is mental illness – a problem that I in 4 of us will face at some point in our lives and many are reluctant to talk about.
Our research reveals that two in three people are more comfortable talking about issues on the road, in a car or van. And together with “Time to Change” – a mental health campaign run by mental health charities’, Mind and Rethink Mental Illness – we are aiming to help reduce the stigma surrounding discussions on mental health.
“Ford is an important part of society and we want to use that relationship to reach as many people as possible and encourage them to ask one simple question – ‘is everything OK?’” said Ford of Britain chairman and managing director Andy Barratt.
As well as creating this short film to increase awareness of the issue, we have also signed the “Time to Change” Employer Pledge, to promote metal health awareness in the workplace.
“A vehicle is a great place to start talking because it’s like your own private bubble, where you’re on a journey together and you’re shoulder to shoulder,” said Matt Loynes, one of our engineers, who came through mental health issues with the support of a friend. “This is about getting everyone on-board and making it part of the culture to take a moment to listen to friends, colleagues and family, to understand and to find the right help for them.”
Together with “Time to Change” we have come up with five tips as a starting point to help people spot the signs and offer the necessary support:
- Text/Call Reach out – start small
- Find a good time and place
- Go for a coffee
- Ask how they are – listen without judging
- Treat them the same
“Having a mental health problem can be incredibly isolating but knowing that there are people around you who care, and will listen without judgement, can make all the difference,” said Sue Baker OBE, the director of Time to Change.