Rail staff could be suffering with poorer mental health because of inadequate line management training and support, according to rail industry body, RSSB.
Stress and mental health are the leading cause of long term absences in the rail industry. The Centre for Mental Health estimates that across the UK and across all walks of life, a total of 72 million working days are lost each year through absence due to mental health issues, costing employers an estimated £35 billion per year.
As in other sectors, great strides have been made in rail in ending the stigma and breaking down barriers to people being open about their own mental health. People are better at recognising symptoms, and accessing support and appropriate treatment for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
However, emerging findings from RSSB research suggest there are untapped benefits in better line manager training, meaning staff could be better supported in getting the right treatment and returning to work.
Investment in both traditional face-to-face and on-line training styles could yield benefits to both the overall health and wellbeing of the rail workforce and to the bottom line. Training would contribute to rail companies’ broader mental health strategies for effective rehabilitation, which could reduce lost working time by up to 30 per cent.
Rail companies are now working with RSSB to develop practical options for line management training, as part of a broader health and wellbeing programme.
RSSB’s Mental Wellbeing Specialist, Michelle O’Sullivan explains: Rail companies are increasingly recognising the importance and benefits of addressing mental health issues, as evidenced by awareness-raising initiatives such as Mental Health Awareness Week – and which are endorsed authentically by senior leadership teams. Our research is paving the way for rail to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by better line management training, to further boost the wellbeing of our people and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the railway overall’.
RSSB is managing a research project, Understanding the conditions for successful mental health training for managers (reference T1124) on behalf of the cross-industry Health and Wellbeing Economics Group. The research forms part of RSSB’s R&D programme, which is funded by the Department for Transport and supported by RSSB’s members.
This project is underway and due to complete later in 2018, and will form part of a new cross-industry mental health programme.
The first part of the research involved a literature review, which we will be publishing on the project page during Mental Health Awareness Week