How the TSA is helping to put mental health on the laundry industry’s agenda

Association continues to support the industry as it seeks to improve culture around wellbeing

In advance of Mental Health Awareness Week the TSA is highlighting the progress the laundry industry has made in engaging with issues surrounding mental health, while acknowledging that there is still much progress to be made.

Improving mental health support and awareness for its members has been one of the TSA’s priorities in recent years, as it forms a major part of its efforts to raise standards of diversity and inclusion within the laundry industry. These activities include the creation of the Wellbeing Hub, an online resource containing training and support resources tailored to the specific needs of the industry, the launch of a mental health awareness course for managers and a mental health first aid training course. Next week the number of people who have taken the course will pass 100 , with more to be held during 2024 to meet strong demand.

The courses and support material were developed by the TSA in partnership with Via Vita Health, a health and wellbeing consultancy company. Adrian Thomas, trainer at Via Vita, gave a presentation at the TSA’s Spring Conference where he explored his personal journey with mental health and work and explained why it is vital that businesses engage with the issue.

“I come from one of the generations that doesn’t generally talk about mental health,” he said. “There is a generational divide on these issues, with many people under 30 feeling more confident about discussing them, but I’ve found that once you’re able to break through these barriers older people are eager to discuss the challenges they have faced.”

He went on to explain the importance of not just paying lip service to looking after the mental health of employees, and how meaningful change often requires profound changes of understanding and the culture within businesses. “We are all products of the society we grew up in,” he says. “Attitudes have changed enormously over the past 40 years, and we’re on the same journey with mental health that we’ve seen with sexual identity, physical disabilities and neurodivergence.”

The response to the TSA’s training initiatives demonstrates that there is demand within the industry for an improvement, but Adrian cautioned against complacency. “We are at the start of a long process here, and it will involve changing the mindset of many companies,” he said. “It’s similar to the culture change that the introduction of health and safety legislation led to.  It might seem overwhelming but it is important that the industry continues to engage with these issues and develops the knowledge and confidence in staff to empower them to support their colleagues.”

Despite the great response from the industry to the courses so far, a sense of the scale of the progress to be made can be seen from the informal poll of attendees at the conference.  It revealed that 65% of companies do not have stress risk assessments in place. “Creating this culture change in the industry will require education and collaboration to be effective,” said Adrian. “Beyond the legal requirements for companies to be considering these issues, at the end of the day it comes down to a simple equation – healthier and happier employees perform better.”

Emma Andersson is the TSA’s director of membership and finance.  She says, “Issues surrounding inclusion are of great importance to the laundry industry and the TSA’s members, and we have been extremely pleased by the positive response so far to the mental health training. Every course we’ve run has been fully booked. The next course in May is already sold out, so we recommend anyone interested in attending the next manager’s course in September to book early!”

For more information about upcoming training and to access the Wellbeing hub, visit the TSA’s website tsa-uk.org

The TSA is the trade association for the textile care services industry. The TSA represents commercial laundry and textile rental businesses. Membership ranges from family-run operations through to large, multi-national companies.  Visit www.tsa-uk.org for more information.

 

 

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