First Bus introduces mental health awareness training

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First Bus introduces mental health awareness training

A growing number of people are affected by stress and mental health issues, says First

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, First Bus rolled out two new mental health training programmes for its staff, following up on research carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) which found that stress and burnout are becoming the primary causes of sickness absence in the UK. The survey found that 76% of respondents across 918 organisations, representing 6.5 million employees, reported that they had taken time off due to stress in the past year.

In response, First Bus says it has joined forces with two field expert companies, Mental Health First Aid England and State of Mind, to upskill its workforce to deal with mental well-being issues and to improve the support for all colleagues across the business.

The partnership with Mental Health First Aid England now means that over 250 colleagues have become approved Mental Health First Aiders, able to provide support to those experiencing poor mental health, signposting and encouraging them to seek appropriate help. They also play a vital role in reducing stigma associated with mental health.

In addition to this, First Bus has teamed up with mental health charity State of Mind to ensure every line manager receives training to become a Mental Health Champion by the end of the summer. The training gives managers the skills they need to have day-to-day conversations with their teams and offer mental health support on an ongoing basis, not just in an emergency.

Gareth Hind, Director of Colleague Experience and Relations at First Bus, said: “Mental health referrals are on the rise and this year we’ve seen more cases than ever before. It’s important we support our colleagues that need urgent help and care, but also provide our people with the tools and skills they need to cope with the pressures of everyday life. By every line manager becoming a Mental Health Champion, we are maturing our approach to mental health in our business, and with the support of the 250 Mental Health First Aiders, every colleague can be confident they’ll receive mental health support should they need it.”

Client Lead for First Bus at Mental Health First Aid England Isabelle Hartley added: “It is a privilege to work with First Bus, delivering a range of mental health knowledge, awareness and skills. We know that the transport sector has a disproportionately high rate of mental ill health, with around four in ten cases of work-related ill-health due to stress, depression or anxiety. First Bus are working hard to shift the dialogue around mental health and support their people and their communities. They are playing a vital part in improving the mental health of the nation and they should feel proud of all they have achieved.”

Ambassador and Speaker for State of Mind Ian Smith said: “Over the last couple of months, it’s been a pleasure to be part of delivering ‘Mental Health Champion – Start a Conversation’ sessions with my great friend and colleague Jimmy Gittins from State of Mind Sport. These sessions are designed to help line managers understand their role in supporting colleagues with their mental health, building their confidence to start these important conversations.

“The feedback has been incredibly humbling, but the engagement from everyone attending, bringing their own lived experiences, have really made these sessions fantastic. We are proud to be working with First Bus and hope what they are doing is an inspiration for more to follow.”