Making mental health matter
LNER and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45. In fact, men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women. Over the past five years, 1,350 people have taken their lives on railway tracks while a further 308 have attempted to do so. This impacts the victims’ families but also affects employees of train companies, their customers and the communities in which they operate. Every single incident impacts multiple train services leading to around 33 days a year lost in time as a direct result of suicide.
Mental health is a key factor in this tragic situation. Train operator LNER wanted to raise awareness of mental health amongst its colleagues, customers and communities, encouraging people to speak out about their experiences and seek support.
But LNER realised that it needed to take a multi-pronged approach. It formed a fundraising partnership with the Campaign Against Living Miserably to raise awareness while to support its people, it created a training partnership with Samaritans to better equip them with skills to engage with vulnerable people.
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) has a focus on supporting men. It was unveiled on World Mental Health Day in October 2018 as LNER’s official charity partner with a video featuring colleagues sharing their experiences of suicide. A new fundraising mechanism was also launched allowing customers claiming ‘Delay Repay’ compensation to donate all, or part, to the charity. And, targeting men specifically, the walls and entrances to some male toilet facilities were adorned with facts about suicide and contact details for CALM.
More than 90 LNER employees, including managing director David Horne, have also undertaken training to become CALM Warriors, gaining the tools they need to go into the community and chat about the charity and its work, supporting those most in need.
LNER also invited colleagues to identify ways in which it could maximise opportunities to raise awareness and money for CALM, all of which were amplified on its social media channels. This led to bucket collections at home games for Doncaster Rovers FC, a team sponsored by LNER. The train operator also gave its shirt sponsorship to CALM.
Since the partnership was unveiled, more than 150 fundraising activities, such as bake sales, have taken place at LNER stations, particularly on key dates, such as World Suicide Prevention Day. And colleagues have also taken part in events, such as The Great North Run, in aid of CALM.
LNER also created a training partnership with Samaritans, which provides its people with best in class training on how to approach talking to somebody who appears at risk of taking their own lives. It provides the skills to identify a vulnerable person, and to make contact in a supportive way. The Managing Suicidal Contacts course is voluntary, but staff have been encouraged to undertake it as part of their existing training programmes. To date, more than 150 people have completed the course.
The partnership is having a tangible impact: CALM Warriors have helped almost 2,000 people in life-threatening situations get the support they need. Indeed, for every life lost to suicide on the LNER route, the train operator’s staff have saved six lives.
This was a ‘brilliant, simple idea’, said the judges, ‘which was excellently executed and impactful. It had business benefits but, more importantly, it saves lives.’