BusNSW, Opinion

BusNSW launches Signal for Help project to support healthy minds

BusNSW’s launch of Signal for Help is helping support the mental health of all NSW bus and coach industry members

Today BusNSW has announced the official launch of Signal for Help – a program to support healthy minds in the NSW bus and coach industry.

BusNSW Executive Director Matt Threlkeld says the project, funded under the NSW government’s Recovery Boost initiative, is a BusNSW-designed mental health program that encourages early intervention, supports recovery and helps to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues in the workplace.

“Round three of the NSW government’s Recovery Boost Program received 344 expressions of interest and BusNSW’s Signal for Help initiative was one of only eight winners for project funding,” Threlkeld says.

“There are approximately 30,000 bus industry workers in NSW and in recent years, operators have seen some employees leaving the industry. COVID, job pressures and challenges outside of work have contributed to this situation.

“The Signal for Help program aims to address this problem by increasing awareness and reducing the stigma of mental health within the bus and coach industry, as well as promoting and facilitating early help-seeking by those affected by mental health issues.”

The project centres around a dedicated Signal for Help website which includes worker case studies specific to the industry and is supported by an awareness campaign that encourages bus industry workers and managers to engage with the website.

The website includes links to information and resources that help manage a range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and panic attacks.

“By encouraging people to seek help early, Signal for Help aims to increase the knowledge and awareness of mental health issues among all workers and create a more supportive and productive work culture across the industry,” Threlkeld says.

“I would like to thank the NSW government for funding the project and the industry representatives covering bus operators, insurance and superannuation providers and workplace health advisors that formed the Working Group for this project.”

Transport Workers’ Union NSW assistant secretary Mick Pieri says being a bus driver can be physically and mentally demanding, and drivers face pressures that often go unnoticed.

“During the pandemic, our members braved the elements and kept Australia moving,” Pieri says.

“We therefore support any mental health programs that can encourage bus companies to support our members.

“By acknowledging the mental health challenges our bus drivers may face, we can collectively contribute to a healthier and more supportive work environment.”

 

BusNSW President John King says he’s pleased to be part of the working group and delivery of this innovative health and safety tool for members.

“Bus drivers are our key interface with the travelling public and it’s critical that we understand they are no different to other members of society and can be affected by mental health issues like anxiety and depression,” he says.

“This also applies to our administration, operations and workshop staff who support service delivery and ensure our fleets are maintained to a high standard.

“I strongly encourage bus operators to promote the Signal for Help program to their employees and play an active part in reducing the stigma associated with mental health issues in their workplace.”

In addition to the BusNSW team, members of the Working Group included Buslines Group’s Brendan Love, Elin Thorell from Busways, Red Bus’s Joanne Mouthier and Leanne Griffiths, Navigate Work’s Nikki Britt, Phillipa Good from CDC NSW, Transdev’s Shayna Fraticelli, BusInsure’s Vanessa Kasemsuk and Verenya Mohan-Ram from TWU Super.

For more information about Signal for Help, access the official website at www.signalforhelp.com.au or contact BusNSW at (02) 8839 9500 or via email at info@busnsw.com.au to learn how your workplace can get involved.

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