Initiative launched to tackle high suicide rates among rail workforce

  • Video report from ITV News Meridian's Abigail Bracken

Our reporter Abigail Bracken visited a train station back office, which is now a calming place for staff to talk about their worries.

With mental health advocates, their role and the room were the brainchild of a former train guard who overcame his own mental health struggles after being abused at school as a child.

It took him decades to ask for the therapy he needed.

Mental Health Lead Manager, Lee Woolcott-Ellis said: "Things turned around fairly quickly, I started to take more care of myself, to eat properly and exercise and all of those things fell into place".

A young Lee Woolcott-Ellis. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Lee is the rail industry's only mental health lead manager, and he said they've been making big cultural changes in the industry.

He said: "We've been pushing in this space for just under four years now, and we've seen some great turnarounds, we've seen a reduction and stigma and many more colleagues coming forward to help and support."

And there's been many more staff seeking help since the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Lee said: "We've just been there to listen, a listening ear, because people have been confined to homes, to their small areas, they don't see anybody and just a listening ear sometimes makes all the difference."

But the rail industry suffers more than most.

Which is why an online event called 'Rail Wellbeing Live' will be offering practical advice to thousands from dozens of speakers.

  • John Halsall, Network Rail, Southern Region

John Halsall, from Network Rail, said: "This is an enormous opportunity, an opportunity to help colleagues in our industry to be fitter, to be more efficient and most of all to be happier".

The two day event is open to everyone and hopes to transform the health and wellbeing of staff in the rail industry.