Southeastern is setting out best practice for mental health in the rail industry, with wide-ranging initiatives to create a supportive working environment.
Southeastern is due to launch the railway industry’s first ever Mental Health Charter this month, which sets out eight actions that can be taken by organisations to identify mental health hazards, address problems and train supportive managers.
Designed by Southeastern Mental Health Lead, Lee Woolcott-Ellis, the charter can be signed by any organisation associated with, or supporting, the railway industry in the UK.
At Southeastern, the number of colleagues seeking mental health support from first aiders rose by 146% to 444 in 2020. The primary causes for intervention were anxiety, bereavement, loneliness, relationships and a reduction in household finances.
Lee Woolcott-Ellis, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a particularly challenging period for our colleagues who have kept essential services running throughout the year to get our passengers to where they need to be. We continue to ensure that everyone is supported and to get the message out that help is at hand if and when they need it”.
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For nearly 50 years, Lee kept quiet about the abuse he had suffered as a child in the boarding school system in the 1970s. That was until one day in 2013 where it became all too much. He decided to speak out and get help for the first time.
After working as a High Speed On Board Manager, Lee is now the Mental Health Lead at Southeastern Railway and has pioneered a new Railway Mental Health Charter to help colleagues across the industry.
The rail industry is male-dominated, so in being a male spokesperson on mental health he has helped break down barriers and has helped transform the way Southeastern approaches mental health.
He has helped numerous staff members across Southeastern with one even saying that Lee's help had "saved his life". He has written a memoir - 'A Childhood Not Easily Forgotten'.