Industry and consumers in focus on World Mental Health Day

By Dominic Ellis
The mounting energy crisis, pandemic pressures and climate change uncertainty present challenges for suppliers and consumers

Price rises, supply pressures, corporate transition and climate change - there are no shortage of pressures facing the energy industry.

Energy UK's chief executive Emma Pinchbeck said the sector is facing challenges due to an unprecedented combination of circumstances, impacting suppliers and consumers alike.

“We do realise it is going to be a challenging winter for many customers nevertheless. So we’d repeat that support is available for customers from their energy supplier and they should get in touch if they are worried about their bills. Energy suppliers have already provided hundreds of millions of pounds in financial assistance since the start of the pandemic. The industry will continue that support this winter," she said.

“And while the immediate focus is on the current situation, it shows why we must continue the low-carbon transition and further reduce our dependency on fossil fuels to remove the risk of being exposed to volatile international wholesale prices in future. It also underlines the need to make our homes more energy efficient, which can permanently cut bills by hundreds of pounds a year.”

Brian Dow, Deputy CEO of Rethink Mental Illness and Co Chair of the National Suicide Prevention Alliance, said the pandemic has undoubtedly led to many people experiencing significant levels of emotional distress, for some severe. In response, people have been offered unprecedented levels of support.

"Given the long-term reverberations of the pandemic, and an increase in the risk factors for suicide such as debt, housing instability or challenges accessing care, our focus needs to be on ensuring we continue to provide this support where it has made a positive difference to people’s lives. That is why reform and investment in health, social care and our benefits system, which provide vital support to so many, is critical.”

Leading corporations are taking a stance.

bp has increased the number and frequency of its ‘Mental health awareness training for managers’ ‎and ‘Mental health awareness’ sessions, providing line managers with the knowledge, skills and ‎confidence to discuss and address mental health concerns in their teams.‎

In April 2020, it made one of its largest charitable donations to Mind, providing the charity the opportunity to invest in the technology required to continue to remotely ‎support people facing mental health challenges. In the same month, bp’s chief executive Bernard ‎Looney and chairman Helge Lund chose to donate 20% of their salaries to mental health charities of ‎their choice for the remainder of the year.‎

In 2020, it continued to improve its systematic management of multiple health data points and ‎sources, to identify ‘hot spots’ where we can target preventive interventions as well as provide training, ‎support and resources to improve employee wellbeing and performance.‎ It also started to provide free access to the headspace meditation app, for employees and their ‎partners, which was downloaded more than 10,000 times last year.

Viva Energy and its wholly owned subsidiary Liberty Oil recently announced a new sponsorship with Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds Foundation (HHTS), whose mission is to improve the mental health and wellbeing of every worker across the road transport, logistics and supply chain sectors. The three-year sponsorship will assist in the Foundation delivering its National Mental Health and Wellbeing Roadmap (the Roadmap), to provide a best-practice approach to building a psychologically safe industry.

Liberty Oil Australia (Liberty) has approximately 100 drivers in 22 depots in rural/remote communities, while Viva Energy, across Australia, engages around 150 refuellers at major airports and their supply chain works with a range of transport suppliers encompassing 400+ drivers and support staff. The HHTS Roadmap aligns well with the needs of both companies.

The primary objective of the Liberty and Viva Energy partnership with HHTS is to provide national access to resources that support mental health and wellbeing of the Liberty driver community and Viva Energy terminal communities and indirectly to suppliers.

The EnergyMind website advises:

Put mental ‘wellbeing at work’ on the leadership agenda

The energy sector already treats health and safety as a board-level concern (and rightly so). We believe mental wellbeing should be treated with the same priority as physical wellbeing by all businesses in the industry.

Support employers to attract and retain talent within the industry

Wellbeing at work doesn’t just benefit the employee, it also helps employers to avoid the costs of stress-related absence – which totals around £5 billion per year in the UK. We’re therefore striving to support employers in creating a culture that supports the mental wellbeing of their employees, helping them to retain valued employees and to attract new talent.​​​​​​

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