We work in a busy, complex and sometimes challenging environment. We’re building some of the biggest transport infrastructure projects this country has ever seen, and we interact with millions of customers and community members every day.
As much as we love what we do, sometimes things can get stressful or even traumatic, either on the job or outside of work. When that happens, it can put a strain on our mental health and wellbeing and affect our ability to cope personally or professionally.
The good news is, if you’re ever affected by a traumatic incident, or just feel like things are getting on top of you, there are plenty of ways you can get the support you need.
Supporting each other
Even though around one in six Australian workers will experience mental health challenges at some time during their working life, often people put off getting professional help or even talking to a friend or relative.
Sometimes a confidential chat with a trusted co-worker who knows you, or just a friendly face who is willing to try to understand what you're going through can be the best and easiest first step towards getting support.
That’s the idea behind having mental health first aiders and peer support volunteers.
One of the most difficult things about trauma is that the effects can linger on long after the incident has happened. Across NSW TrainLink, more than 60 peer support volunteers are supporting their colleagues to recover and return to normal after traumatic events.
Lithgow-based NSW TrainLink Guard, Cheryl Packer said she volunteered to be a peer supporter because she’s passionate about mental health and loves helping people.
“I’ve been through a few pretty awful experiences myself where customers have been badly injured and what helped me was just sitting in the meal room for a while talking to other guards who had been through similar things,” Cheryl said.
“I wanted to be able to offer that kind of support but what I’ve also found is that often people just need to talk about what’s happening in their life.
“When you’re doing shift work and spending long hours away from home it can be hard on your health and relationships and that in turn can impact your ability to work safely and provide good customer service.
“Often just having a chat with a co-worker is all people need to feel better, or if things are a bit more serious I can also refer them on to the right professional services”.
Mental health first aid
Right across the state, we’re building a network of volunteer Mental Health First Aiders who are trained to recognise the warning signs and provide confidential advice and support.
First Aider Greg Black, who is part of the Bus Contracts team in Wollongong, has been involved with the program since the pilot was launched two years ago.
“I immediately thought it was a great idea,” Greg said.
“My background is in the military and police, so I’ve seen first hand the devastating impact that trauma and stress can have on people’s lives.
I’m happy to be able to offer that sounding board for people – whether they’re dealing with difficult relationships at work, concerns about job security, or even major life events like bereavements.
I sit and listen as long and as often as they need me to, but then it’s about supporting them to get the right professional help.
One of the reasons the mental health first aid approach works, is that I’m supporting people I’ve worked with for years. Just in the course of normal conversations I can usually pick up if someone’s doing it tough and offer a bit of support,” Greg said.
Earlier this year we launched a new mental health and wellness program for everyone called Staywell. It’s all about creating a safe and healthy workplace where everyone knows it’s OK, and in fact encouraged, to ask for and get support.
Mandy Makhlouf, who works in People and Culture, said Staywell is based on a commitment to putting people first.
“We all respond best in an environment where we are valued, where we are listened to and importantly where we feel safe.
“Providing that environment is not only good for us, our families and colleagues, but it also makes us a stronger organisation and means that we can do a better job for our customers and communities,” Mandy said.
The Staywell program includes events, training courses, an online hub and a network of mental health first aiders who provide support in the workplace.
The most recent intake of mental health first aiders focused on recruiting volunteers from road teams, particularly so we can provide better support to our road maintenance crews who are sometimes exposed to frightening situations as a result of motorist behaviour when they are working near traffic.
HELP IS AT HAND
If you feel like you could benefit from talking to a professional, don’t put it off. The Employee Assistance Program offers professional support and coaching for those times when you need support or simply when you want to improve your health and wellbeing so you can be the best you can be.
Employee Assistance Program
TfNSW and Sydney Metro
1300 360 364
Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink
1300 364 213
1300 687 327