INFRA Skills supports World Mental Health Day which gives us the opportunity to talk about mental health and try to reduce the stigma that seems to surround it. The theme for this year is ‘Suicide and Suicide Prevention,’ and with 800,000 people worldwide taking their own lives each year, it’s important to encourage those who are vulnerable to speak openly.
Suicide Rates are Significantly Higher in Men
Suicide has now become the leading cause of death between 20 – 34 years old in the UK, and these figures are significantly higher in men, according to ‘Time to change’ which is a growing social movement trying to improve the behaviours and attitudes surrounding mental health.
With 279 rail suicides in the UK in 2018/2019, an increase of 21 fatalities over the previous year, rail suicide remains a serious problem. Network Rail (NR) has been focusing a lot of attention on their Rail Suicide Prevention Program, and we have been supporting it with workplace initiatives.
Did you know the average person spends around 1,800 hours a year at work? It’s important to ensure staff feel safe in their working environment and can seek help if they need it. The rail industry is already suffering from an ageing workforce, and with suicide being the leading cause of death in over 50’s, this is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently.
Creating the Right Work Environment
As a group, we’re putting in place a number of measures to try to mitigate the negative effects that a work environment can have on a person. Working long hours can cause high levels of fatigue, which can reduce performance and safety while also affecting an individual’s well-being.
As a result, RSSI has implemented a fatigue monitoring system, which begins during the rostering process, when the in-house CRM is utilised to compute travel time to and from the site, shift duration, and task type. Any concerns about travel exceedance or shift duration (14 hours from door to door) are immediately identified, preventing workers from being rostered to shifts or projects unless appropriate measures, such as local lodging, are put in place to ensure that “Everyone [returns] home safe, every day.”
Getting Everyone Home Safe Every Day
RSSI has also taken precautions to ensure that personnel are transported to the worksite in a safe manner. They are the first in the rail industry to employ a specialised Driver Awareness Warning System (DAWS). The warning system is a dash-mounted device that measures the driver’s ‘blinking pattern,’ issuing audio warnings whenever indicators of drowsiness, exhaustion, and/or concentration are diverted from the road.
Managing staff’s fatigue, paying above national minimum wage, providing full PPE, as well as safe travel to and from work are just some of the ways RSSI are trying to reduce the negative impact work have on a person’s wellbeing.
Establishing a Supportive Wellbeing Network
A Wellbeing Network has been established inside the ‘INFRA Family,’ with volunteers from the companies undergoing a Mental Health First Aid training. This course presents a comprehensive review of the onset, nature, and treatment of mental illness, as well as a better understanding of the various types of support, therapies, and self-help options available.
The learners also learned first aid skills for supporting persons experiencing mental distress prior to professional involvement by the end of the two-day course and were part of a group of ‘Wellbeing Champions’ within the company.
The ‘Champions’ gather on a regular basis to talk about projects, awareness, and support, and they now have the knowledge and confidence to be the first line of defence for anyone suffering from mental illness. They’re also in charge of spreading the wellness message throughout the company and highlighting any issues.
Supporting NR’s Suicide Prevention Programme
Although there has been an increase in the number of rail suicides over the past year, there has also been an increase of 33% in the number of suicide preventions according to Network Rail. Auctus Management Group, and its subsidiary businesses, are supporting NR’s Suicide Prevention Programme through their wellbeing initiatives, working towards the government’s target to reduce suicides by 10% in 2020/2021.
Additional Information on World Mental Health Day
For more information on World Mental Health Day visit: timetochange.org
There are several organisations and support helplines available if you need advice or assistance with your own or someone else’s mental health.