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Psychological resilience and support for the rail industry

Added on the 18th September 2014

We were asked recently about the occurrence of traumatic incidents related to the rail industry and what the relevance of good trauma management is for rail companies.

International research has found that up to 16 per cent of drivers who experience a ‘’person-under-train event’’ develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more than 30 per cent develop other mental health issues, including depression and anxiety disorder. And, of course, railway workers may also encounter many other potentially traumatic incidents at work such as collisions; near misses or assaults.

Research in Canada into fatal rail incidents showed that after the initial shock recedes, rail personnel suffered mid and long-term effects in 40% of the incidents studied – with the impact usually manifesting itself in the form of flashbacks to the incident. The study found that the impact of train fatalities on crew members can unfold over several months and years and highlighted the importance of having systems in place (e.g. TRiM) before a traumatic incident occurs:

“The most important risk and protective factors involve what occurs prior to the incident and within the first few weeks after the incident (Bardon & Mishara, 2011). Therefore, interventions to reinforce protective factors and reduce the impact of risk factors have to be implemented before incidents take place, through comprehensive and proactive protocols.”

One such ‘protocol’ is, of course, TRiM (trauma risk management) a NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence)- compliant peer support system which – research has shown – is not only highly effective in the early detection and support of those in psychological distress but also in keeping personnel at work following a potentially traumatic incident.

Professor Neil Greenberg, occupational, academic and forensic psychiatrist, leading traumatic stress expert and President of the UK Psychological Trauma Society, runs March on Stress, the leading commercial TRiM training provider. He said: “Traumatic incidents are, unfortunately, all too frequent an occurrence in the public transport industry. The effects upon staff involved can significantly impair their ability to work effectively, presenting significant risks in safety critical environments.

“However it is entirely possible to substantially mitigate the effects of serious trauma on workplace functionality by ensuring robust, evidence-based, traumatic stress policy and procedures are in place. The emphasis of these procedures is on supporting and training staff to keep them functioning well after experiencing trauma.

“Being well prepared before traumatic events occur helps organisations to maximise resilience and minimise the effects of workplace trauma and stress upon both staff and business. Being prepared allows organisations to demonstrate that they are exercising their duty of care while at the same time avoiding the economic, legal and reputational risks associated with insufficient psychological support.”

March on Stress has recently worked with a national rail organisation to provide TRiM training and also conduct research into the effectiveness of that programme.

The results were extremely positive, with course attendees reporting significant improvements in how competent they felt about supporting distressed colleagues. People who completed the training also reported improvements in their own mental health and an improvement in their views on seeking help for mental health difficulties.

Similar results have previously been found with military personnel who have gone through TRiM training. TRiM has also been found to be associated with a significant reduction in the risk of sickness absence after traumatic events within police officers and staff who responded to a highly traumatic incident.

March on Stress works with a broad range of organisations - particularly those whose staff are either in safety critical roles or work in potentially hazardous environments - to PREVENT, DETECT and TREAT issues of a psychological nature. These problems vary in nature but they can all impact on a member of staff’s ability to function effectively and safely while at work and, if left undetected, may even result in the loss of a well-trained member of staff.

All of our services at March on Stress are based on the very latest scientific evidence and research by leading international experts in operational and occupational stress (including Professor Neil Greenberg himself).

Many of those services use the TRiM (trauma risk management) concept - a proven system that adheres to NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines - to enable organisations to be as self-sufficient as possible in the early detection, and management, of mental health issues arising following a potentially traumatic incident.

To find out more about TRiM by March on Stress, please click here.


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Keywords : TRiM UK, Advanced Mentoring Skills, TRiM Training course, PTSD Advisory Service

Description : March on Stress are acknowledged and accredited experts in the mamagement of Trauma, Stress and PTSD