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Mental Health Matters for Arriva Luton

08 November 19

Arriva Luton has asserted its commitment to tackling the stigma of mental health in the workplace by encouraging key members of staff to access accredited training in the recognition and support of those living with mental illness.

Working alongside Luton Adult Community Learning, each of the depot’s Duty Managers has undertaken a half day Mental Health Lite workshop, whilst Luton’s Unite Union Chair, Rob Petrie, has become a fully-qualified Mental Health First Aider following an intensive two-day course, which will ensure there is a robust framework in place to ensure personnel from across the local business are able to access appropriate help, advice and support should it ever be required.

Linsey Frostick, General Manager for Arriva Luton, explained: “The wellbeing of my staff both physically and mentally is my top concern.  The opportunity to work with the council and for my team to undertake the courses they were providing seemed like the obvious thing to do.  All my front line managers went on a half days’ awareness training that they all found insightful and useful for dealing with over 150 drivers every day.  To strengthen that, I then asked Rob if he would undertake the full Mental Health first aider course as I know how seriously he takes this subject.  The courses were excellent and I really think it will enhance how we look after and care for our staff here at Arriva in Luton.”

The courses covered many significant topics including how to spot the early signs of a mental health issues, how to feel confident in offering initial help and be able to preserve life where a person maybe at risk of harm to themselves or others, or help stop mental ill health from getting worse. Now qualified as a Mental Health First Aider, Rob is fully versed in promoting recovery, and guiding colleagues towards appropriate treatment and other sources of help.

Rob commented: “I have been an avid champion of mental health for a long time. I personally have had issues in the past and have many family members have also been affected at some point in their life too. There is a stigma attached to mental health that can only be stopped if we bring the issues to the forefront of people’s minds. If someone has never suffered from mental illness it can be difficult to relate to the conditions and what it entails. Some don’t even fully realise or understand that they have actually been through mental health related challenges, and that is terrifying. So I was keen that to be able to do something to make a difference.

“I have worked for Arriva for over half my life (23 years now) and in that time I have seen many colleagues struggle with their own mental welfare. As a Union rep I deal with most employees, from drivers, engineers, cleaners to management and head office staff, so I was in a great position to be able to bring something to my workplace that will not only help the employees of the business but the company itself.

“Whilst I have always prided myself on being someone who will listen to people and their issues, I have never had any formal training. This course has given me a much better understanding of many sensitive issues including suicidal crisis, stress, substance misuse, anxiety disorders, reactions to trauma, self-harm, eating disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and how to help the individuals suffering to cope or process what it is they are going through.

“The techniques I have learnt will definitely have an impact for the team in Luton, and I’m hopeful that they will translate into my personal life too. The key message is not only to talk more, but to listen more. Perhaps we can all practice listening non-judgementally in hundreds of tiny little moments throughout our days, and inadvertently become that tap which lets the stress flow out of someone’s container. It might just make all the difference.”

The Mental Health England qualifications were provided by Luton Adult Learning (part of Luton Council) following part of a national Mental Health pilot and research project during 2015-2017. The project saw Luton Adult Learning work with Luton residents to improve their mental health, and the results showed that 70% of learners who started their course with clinically significant symptoms of anxiety and/or depression no longer had clinically significant symptoms at the end of their course.  Luton Adult Learning now employ a specific member of staff to undertake training with external parties to improve mental health within businesses locally

Further information about the courses can be found at: https://www.lutonacl.ac.uk/learn-with-us/mental-health-first-aid.html