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Go-Ahead training mental health first aiders across all its bus companies

Go-Ahead is training a mental health first aider in every one of its Irish and UK bus companies as part of its long-term commitment to colleagues’ mental health.

The news comes on today’s ‘Time to Talk Day’ (February 4), which encourages people to consider the power that small conversations and check-ins can have on a person’s wellbeing.

Go-Ahead says 90 per cent of its 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.

The group states that its aim is to tackle this by ensuring that mental health is discussed openly across its companies and to direct colleagues to resources and support available.

Brighton & Hove Buses kickstarted its mental health initiative in 2020, putting forward more than 10 colleagues for mental health first aid training. These colleagues have played an instrumental part of supporting the city’s bus workers during the pandemic.

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.”