The Electrical Industries Charity (EIC) provides invaluable support for people in need in the electrical sector. Here, its managing director Tessa Ogle outlines how it helps improve many lives – and highlights the need for more support for those with mental health problems
In our industry, there are 1.3 million people who are working, or have worked, in the electrical or energy-related sectors.
Some 10 per cent of these people are dealing with a wide range of issues such as autism, mental health problems, caring for a loved one or financial problems, and are eligible for support from their industry charity.
But not all of them are aware of the support services that are available – and therefore very often do not reach out for that vital help.
Mental health issues are one of the most common problems affecting thousands of people in the UK. According to the recent statistics produced by the NHS Digital study, one in six of the population in England aged 16 to 64 has a mental health problem.
The same study revealed that women are now more likely to have a common mental illness, but men are more likely to take their own lives. In fact, there are around 6,000 suicides reported in the UK each year, and this is the biggest killer of men up to the age of 49.
In our sector alone, the statistics showed that the risk of suicide for those working in building and construction trades was 1.6 times higher than the national average.
Recently, a review commissioned by Theresa May also found that 300,000 people with a long-term mental health problem lose their jobs each year in the UK due to lack of support. The report also showed that poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99billion each year.
The stigma of mental health is the biggest barrier to seeking help. In our sector, stress and depression are some of the most common matters to deal with, but 95 per cent of people in the industry never discuss feeling depressed with a significant other.
Mental health stigma can be a silent killer, and it is having catastrophic effects on people's wellbeing – it is often the reason people lie about how they are feeling, or don't tell anyone that they're struggling.
To address these concerning numbers, and to help those who are struggling, the EIC has launched the Employee Assistance Programme, which covers four separate areas:
Thanks to these four programmes, and the support from the electrical industry, the charity has helped 4,000 individuals in the electrical sector in the past year alone.
Employee Assistance Programmes are very common across the sector but many people believe that they are only available to people who work for big companies. But the programmes run by the EIC are open to everyone.
To the EIC, you’re never just a number or just another small business in the electrical sector. And it doesn’t matter if you’re self-employed or working for
a small or large business – everyone is equally as important.
The stories on these pages give just a couple of examples of the many issues that thousands of people in our industry are going through.
You can show your support and help us to continue providing crucial help by joining our programmes, signing up to Challenge for a Cause or playing our own powerLottery.
To find out more about the EIC and how it could help you, please visit www.electricalcharity.org
Danny was a qualified electrician and for many years had his own successful business. Unfortunately, it started to lose money rapidly which caused a decline in his physical and mental health. Not long after losing his business, his marriage also broke down.
He suffered a complete mental breakdown, and when he was released from hospital, he was put on a high level of medication which left him unable to work due to residual anxiety and depression.
Danny was renting a two-bedroom house so his daughter could stay with him on alternate weekends. However, his discretionary extra housing benefit was then stopped, leaving him with a £400 per month shortfall.
It was at this point that Danny contacted the EIC, who immediately offered him one-to-one counselling. They also provided financial support for his rent and helped him to register with a work scheme, covering his registration fees and providing him with the necessary tools to help him to continue with his electrical career.
Danny was able to access support when he needed it and is now on his way to recovery – but there are many others like him in the industry who still need help.