HS2 is a transformational project. It will reshape the economic geography of Britain, drive growth and jobs across the country, transform connections and support a huge investment in skills.
Given the scale of HS2 there is the opportunity to also lead a transformation in support of positive mental health and wellbeing in the rail and construction sectors and beyond. This includes addressing mental health and wellbeing in working environments for those constructing HS2 and communities where construction takes place as well as how the railway operates for staff and passengers, designing for wellbeing from the start.
Our latest report Laying the Foundations for Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing sets out our members commitment to a step-change in awareness and action on mental health and wellbeing through the delivery of the HS2 project.
The report draws on innovations and approaches that HSRIL members have put in place or are developing and which lay the foundations for a commitment to a step-change and new industry standard through the delivery of HS2. The innovations and activity to support positive mental health and wellbeing include:
In addition – our members have committed to new Charter to promote step change in supporting positive mental health and wellbeing:
- Creating a culture of openness including through role play sessions to enable conversations about mental health and to counter the stigma and taboos, which particularly affects men
- Establishing mental health first aiders and champions in the workplace to signpost support
- Treating mental health on par with physical health and agreeing a step-change in approach led from the top of organisations
- Proactive and preventative approaches to mental health and wellbeing
- Changing the nature of construction through manufacturing centres with less dangerous site work needed as a result; and designing out future problems such as destressing environments
- Supporting national mental health awareness events and campaigns
- Establishing employment assistant programmes to support employees as well as their families
- Developing fitness and nutrition schemes, not just treating ill-health but seeking prevention, leading to less surgery and quicker recovery times
- Engaging staff in activity to support positive mental health as well as supporting positive forms of engagement in the workplace
- Enabling young engineers to develop communication and soft-skills to address low confidence that can lead to stress, anxiety and a dissatisfied work life
John Downer, HSRIL Director said:
“Mental health is rightly receiving much more attention with the Prime Minister calling it a ‘burning injustice’. As a rail industry, through the delivery HS2, our members can support a step-change in how we support positive mental ill health and wellbeing. Our industry has real challenges to face but HS2 enables us to set a new standard. Just as the Olympic Games in 2012 was the safest ever constructed, we must build the safest high speed railway, with support for positive mental health and wellbeing at its heart, not just in construction but in every aspect of the programme.”