The news comes on ‘Time to Talk Day’ (4 February), which encourages people to consider the power that small conversations and check-ins can have on a person’s wellbeing.
Nine-tenths of Go-Ahead’s bus workforce is male, although initiatives are in place to encourage more women to consider careers in transport. Men are more likely to have lower levels of life satisfaction than women and are less likely to access mental health support services, according to the Mental Health Foundation (https://is.gd/qahuyo).
The group aims to tackle this by ensuring that mental health is discussed openly across its companies and to direct employees to resources and support available.
Brighton & Hove Buses kick-started its mental health initiative in 2020, putting forward more than ten staff for mental health first aid training
As of February 2021, in-house mental health first aider training has been completed by participants at the Oxford Bus Company, Go South West, Go South Coast, Go-Ahead London, Go North West and Go-Ahead Ireland. Other Go-Ahead companies such as Go North East and Go East Anglia will soon be going through the training.
The training gives an in-depth understanding of mental health, allowing people the practical skills to spot triggers, reassure a person in distress and guide individuals to further appropriate support.
Go-Ahead London – which operates a quarter of London’s iconic red buses – is additionally training managers and colleagues on mental health awareness in conjunction with Transport for London.
Sam Facey, Go-Ahead’s head of safety said: “The pandemic has hit mental health hard across the country and it’s difficult to find someone who hasn’t been affected. It is our duty as an employer to ensure that our colleagues know what support is available. By training a representative in each of our bus companies as a mental health first aider, we can start to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health by providing and practical and emotional support.”