Our ref: HSR/1/9
Head Office Circular: NP/178/23
10th October 2023
To: The Secretary
ALL SHIPPING BRANCHES
WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY 2023
World Mental Health Day is an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.
The theme for World Mental Health Day 2023 is 'Mental health is a universal human right.' This subject emphasises the necessity of assuring that everyone, regardless of age, socioeconomic class, or background should have access to high-quality mental health care and support.
Following RMT’s participation in a study undertaken by the Department for Transport/ Ipsos, entitled “Suicide and Seafarers”, we participated in a workshop on suicide and seafarers, hosted by the Maritime Charities Group in partnership with the maritime and Coastguard Agency and DfT.
This study demonstrated two key things. Firstly, that for suicide to be effectively addressed, a more holistic and proactive attempt to tackle the mental health challenges facing seafarers is required. This was clear across the range of different perspectives included in the study. Secondly, suicide is, for a variety of reasons, being under recorded. While there are ways that this could be improved – and that improvements could be part of tackling the issue of suicide – narrowly focusing on this specific issue should not be to the detriment of addressing seafarers’ mental health.
RMT will today be participating in a Ministerial roundtable meeting on suicide prevention on the railway, which stems from the Minister of State for Rail and HS2, Huw Merriman’s desire to see a reduction in the number of suicide and trespass incidents on the railways.
We will be calling for an increased number of Network Rail and Train Operating Companies’ staff and British Transport Police officers to be encouraged to attend suicide-prevention courses from the Samaritans. There will need to be a reversal of the current proposals to close ticket offices: more, trained, staff need to be employed and need to be physically visible and available at stations. This will also require investment into BTP; RMT has met with the BTP Chief Constable recently and shares her concerns about the need for greater numbers of officers.
The mental wellbeing of those involved in suicide incidents needs to be addressed by employers- both of the drivers who collide with suicide victims and those who have to clear up the remains on the track afterwards. Such workers will often suffer from PTSD and may not be able to work again for some time, if at all. Investment in the skills needed to cope with such circumstances is vital.
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of relevant members.