With ongoing uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to prioritise health and wellbeing. That's why Southern, part of the UK's largest rail operator, has teamed up with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to launch a pilot scheme featuring 'drop-in' mental health hubs, following World Mental Health Day this Saturday (10th October).
The new hubs, based at Brighton and Eastbourne stations, will be staffed by a range of psychologists and therapists from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust who will be on hand to talk to passengers and the local community about any issues or concerns they have surrounding mental health. Southern's team of Wellbeing Champions will also be available at each station for general advice and support, with the pilot marking the first partnership between Southern and an NHS trust to deliver localised mental health support collaboratively.
The mental health hubs will follow World Mental Health Day and be open to passengers and members of the local community on Monday 12th, Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th October from 15:00 until 18:00.
Sam Allen, CEO of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Covid-19 has threatened our personal safety, disrupted our daily routines, uprooted our lives and shaken our world. The psychological impact on our local communities has been huge. It's so important that we talk about our mental health with friends, family members or colleagues as this can be key in looking after our mental wellbeing.
"We're delighted to be working with Southern on developing this unique mental health hub pilot scheme and promoting our #Ten4Ten campaign; it's fantastic to see the organisation taking such an active role in supporting colleagues, customers and the local communities," she added.
The NHS Trust's #Ten4Ten campaign encourages people to look after their mental health by following 10 easy steps:
- Remember it is normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or angry during a crisis
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle as far as you can, including diet, sleep and exercise
- Don't smoke, drink or use drugs to deal with your emotions
- Limit worry by watching or listening to media coverage less
- Keep connected to people by phone, email and social media
- Be kind to others and yourself
- Seek advice you can trust from the NHS and the Government
- Get the facts to help you determine the risk and help protect yourself
- Use skills you already have, and have used in the past to deal with stress
- Structure your day with things you can realistically achieve
Angie Doll, Managing Director for Southern and Gatwick Express, said: "The railway is playing a vital role in keeping the country moving throughout this terrible pandemic. Our colleagues have been working tirelessly so our passengers can use our trains with the confidence that they are Covid-19 safe and secure. We know this will be taking its toll on both their physical and mental health, so we have Wellbeing Champions across our network to support the wellbeing of all our staff. In honour of World Mental Health Day, we are now extending this support to passengers, thanks to our new and first-time partnership with an NHS Trust."
Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne, also commented: "Reaching out to the rail passenger community to offer support, help and advice on mental health issues in this way is a great thing to do and I would like to thank Southern and Sussex Partnership for joining together to make it happen, especially at such a difficult time.
"Mental health issues affect many, many people and some of those people are sometimes reluctant to seek help. Having a pop-up hub like this at Eastbourne station is really sending out a powerful message that it's OK to talk about mental health and there is help and support available."
In addition to various confidential health and wellbeing resources, Southern - which is part of Govia Thameslink Railway - also offers employees Trauma Risk Management support, occupational health care and access to the railway chaplains network; an independent charity providing year-round support to railway staff who may be dealing with loneliness, stress, depression, bereavement or illness. The rail operator is encouraging all colleagues to support their teams through its internal communication channels with videos, access to resources and training opportunities.
The mental health hub pilot scheme follows the rail operator's recent 'Affirmation Art' campaign, which offered passengers messages of hope on World Suicide Prevention Day and highlighted the year-round effort the company puts into this topic, with help from a dedicated Suicide Prevention Manager.
For those unable to visit the 'drop in' mental health hubs next week, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is also sharing easy steps for looking after mental health on its website as part of the #Ten4Ten campaign.