The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has called for better targeting of support for rail workers needing help with mental health issues.
RSSB’s first-ever rail industry mental health survey reveals that of almost 4,000 respondents, 43% were found to have met criteria for a clinical mental health condition across screen measures for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders.
The survey concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic has likely contributed to poor mental health across the general population, recording that moderate to severe depression increased from 5.6% to 31.6% while moderate to severe anxiety increased from 6% to 18.8%.
Half of the respondents were classified as front-line workers. RSSB noted that “the challenges associated with performing a public-facing role during the pandemic were clear” and that “the additional pressures have clearly taken their toll”.
Sickness absence was five times higher than the general population pre-COVID and six times higher than the general population during the pandemic. One in eight respondents reported experiencing an incident at work where their poor mental health had been a factor, but only half sought help.
RSSB psychologists are warning that employers should move away from “lip-service, token gimmicks like yoga and fruit bowls for all”. They recommend that employers should “use local data better” to provide more specific intervention where it’s most needed.
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