Scotrail was one of the first train operators to train its staff specifically on mental health issues. On 13 May 2019, the company announced that more than 50 staff across the business would be receiving mental health first aid training, allowing them to provide guidance and signpost support services to anyone experiencing problems.
Using NHS-accredited material, the training would allow staff to identify someone who is developing a mental health issue, and guide them to the relevant service by:
- Asking about suicide;
- Listening non-judgementally;
- Giving reassurance and information;
- Encouraging the person to get professional help;
- Encouraging self-help strategies.
One year on from that announcement, ScotRail staff have been talking about mental health, how the training they received has helped them interact with passengers and the additional challenges that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has created.
Dominic Quilty, a ticket examiner based at Dalmuir, nine miles northwest of Glasgow, has helped several colleagues since receiving his mental health first aid training and has made positive steps to break down the stigma and encourage more people to speak up about their own wellbeing.
Derek Monaghan, a member of the customer service team at Glasgow Central station, has been making use of video conferencing calls to allow support group meetings to continue to take place during the current COVID-19 outbreak.
The theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, 18-24 May, is kindness, and Colin Reed from Markinch station in Fife, 22 miles northeast of the Forth bridge, recently received ScotRail’s ‘Employee of the Month’ award for his kind-heartedness.
He reached out to his customers during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic through a thoughtful notice board message displayed at the station, offering to keep in contact with any person requiring help by calling them weekly and even giving out his phone number to those needing it.
This kind gesture was shared on Twitter, resulting in hundreds of re-tweets, thousands of likes, and comments from others who had their own story to tell about Colin.
Commenting on Scotrail’s approach to mental health, Dominic Quilty said: “It’s really important for us to continue to break down the stigma that has historically been associated with mental health, and ScotRail’s mental health first aid training is pivotal in this.
“The skills I’ve learned has allowed me to help a number of colleagues who were going through difficult times, and my advice to others would be; don’t be afraid to speak to someone and strike up a conversion if you think they may be struggling.
“In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to ensure those going through a difficult time get the help they need.”
Occupational health and wellbeing manager Nadya Kuhl added: “During this unprecedented global crisis, it’s important that we continue to talk about our mental health.
“Whether that’s texting a friend, chatting to colleagues through video conferencing apps, or checking in with a vulnerable neighbour – our society really benefits from peoples’ selflessness and kind-hearted actions.”