Laura Campbell, Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR) Suicide Prevention Manager highlights how GTR strengthened its partnership with Stevenage FC to support young people in the community, helping to combat the mental health crisis following the pandemic. The ‘Don’t Tackle It Alone’ campaign aims to encourage young people to attend Friday Kicks sporting events in their areas.
Has the way mental health is viewed changed in that time? “I definitely think there’s been a change because more people are talking about mental health, which can only be a good thing. A lot of people struggle with their mental health and we need to address this upstream before people get to crisis point.
“Our philosophy at GTR is zero harm and we need to be looking out for everybody. We train our teams with that in mind. Mental health is something that can affect all of us, it’s not selective on age or demographic, which is why training is so important to us as we need to have an eye on everyone.”
People in crisis are attracted to the railway, partly, because they think they are usually guaranteed to see somebody, said Laura. “Most of the time, vulnerable people are just looking for someone to talk to. We know that the simple act of saying ‘hello’ and ‘are you okay’ can change the outcome, which is why we really focus on training our people on how best to approach those in need.”
As for the industry itself, “There is a lot going on behind the scenes. I attend a monthly session with other train operating companies and Network Rail to discuss, share and collaborate on best practice.
In March, Network Rail held a conference at the NEC in Birmingham which brought together all our industry partners including the British Transport Police and care workers. As for advice for those in a bad place: “We all have bad days. When it gets to the point where you feel like you can’t get out of bed, even the act of just making your bed can improve your outlook. If you can’t have a shower, wash your face. Do all the things that you feel able to do. Just take tiny steps. “And if you can’t reach out to friends, knowing that there is someone that’s always willing to speak to you, so things like the Hub of Hope, the Samaritans, all these amazing people that just want to talk to you and you don’t have to be in crisis.