Mental health champions at each of Go-Ahead’s ten UK regional bus companies have been trained to spot triggers, reassure people in distress, and advise colleagues on how to access support.
The initiative, which began in 2020 at Brighton & Hove and Metrobus, is intended to break any remaining stigma surrounding mental health.
For example, Michelle Galvin, mental health first aider at Go Northwest in Manchester, supported a bus driver who, after several family bereavements, was struggling to continue with his day-to-day duties. Go-Ahead provided counselling and directed the driver towards Able Futures, a support partnership.
Approximately 80 colleagues across the Group have now undergone this training since its launch and there are current plans to offer further training to a new cohort.
During Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 (9 – 15 May), a number of Go-Ahead companies are holding events to raise the profile of mental health challenges.
- In East Anglia, Go-Ahead’s Chatty Bus campaign will be mobilised to help both passengers and transport colleagues to tackle loneliness.
- Go-Ahead London, the capital’s largest bus operator, will be supporting colleagues through its Employee Assistance Program. The program provides practical information, resources, and counselling to help employees balance work, family, and personal life.
- Brighton and Hove Buses will be taking a bus to the University of Brighton to assist students with any issues they may be experiencing regarding mental health.
- The Oxford Bus Company is launching a Brand the Bus campaign with Restore, a mental health delivery group.
- Meanwhile, Govia Thameslink Railway is supporting Brighter Journeys, an industry-wide campaign run by Network Rail alongside a mental health charity, Chasing the Stigma, intended to lift the spirits of passengers, and ease anxiety, as they resume rail travel after the pandemic. Passengers at Stevenage and East Croydon stations will see nature and sensory installations as they head to work or for days out with family. Volunteers will signpost them to the Hub of Hope app connecting people to more than 4,000 mental health support services.
The demographics of the transport industry poses particular challenges in tackling mental health. Four-fifths of Go-Ahead’s workforce is male, although initiatives are in place to encourage more women to consider careers in transport. Men are more likely than women to have lower levels of life satisfaction and are less likely to access mental health support.
Sam Facey, Go-Ahead’s Head of Safety, said: “At Go-Ahead, we want to make sure that everybody within our business is properly supported. There must be no stigma around mental health, and we want to make sure that everybody knows that help is at hand when they need it. Our mental health first aiders are a great support for anyone facing difficulties and are always available. Even some of our customers are benefiting from the skills our first aiders have gained through mental health training. We will continue this support for as long it is needed as it has proven to be a success.”