HSE International

TUC launches new guidance to recruit more union members and health and safety reps

The TUC has today (Friday) launched new guidance to help recruit more union members and encourage more existing union members to become health and safety reps.

The UK’s current network of 100,000 union safety reps work hard to reduce injuries and ill-health at work, and the TUC trains around 10,000 safety reps every year, who focus on finding and resolving potential problems at work. Union reps first highlighted risks including asbestos, violence at work, RSI, the effects of passive smoking and stress.

Prevention of workplace injuries and work-related ill-health as a result of this ‘union safety effect’ saves the economy the equivalent of £219m-£725m a year at 2014 prices. The contribution of the union safety role in the public sector alone is £130m-£360m.

However, the TUC believes that the government’s Trade Union Bill may seriously affect health and safety at work, if reps are unable to get the facility time off they need to keep their members safe or if union membership falls.

As a result the TUC in partnership with Hazards has produced new guidance aimed at helping unions attract new members and to encourage existing members to become more involved with health and safety issues.

The TUC advice suggests that health and safety is a good way of recruiting members as concerns about workplace safety are one of the main reasons that people join a trade union.

In addition, many employers are more interested in working with unions on health and safety issues than others, and areas like well-being can provide a good way of involving the workforce and engaging with the employer.

To encourage current union members to be more interested in health and safety issues, the guidance suggests unions can:

• involve members in identifying hazards at work, finding solutions and dealing with problems.
• continue to increase the number of confident, trained health and safety reps, ensuring they are representative of their workplaces.
• deal with problems early, when they are manageable, rather than leaving them to get worse.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Union health and safety reps are unsung heroes, working tirelessly to look after people at work and saving the economy millions.

“Staff who are worried about health and safety issues in their workplace are more likely to consider joining a union to protect themselves. It’s vital unions take the chance to encourage workers to sign up and to become more involved.

“Good employers recognise the importance of working with unions to ensure their shops, offices and factories are safe. It’s a shame the government is putting this good work at risk with its ill-conceived Trade Union Bill.”

Original Source: https://www.tuc.org.uk/union-issues/tuc-launches-new-guidance-recruit-more-union-members-and-health-and-safety-reps?

How stress affects your brain (in TED-Ed GIFs)

Are you sleeping restlessly, feeling irritable or moody, forgetting little things, and feeling overwhelmed and isolated? Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. You’re probably just stressed out.

 

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Stress isn’t always a bad thing. It can be handy for a burst of extra energy and focus, like when you’re playing a competitive sport, or have to speak in public. But when it’s continuous, the kind most of us face day in and day out, it actually begins to change your brain. Chronic stress, like being overworked or having arguments at home, can affect brain size, its structure, and how it functions, right down to the level of your genes.

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Stress begins with something called the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis, a series of interactions between endocrine glands in the brain and on the kidney, which controls your body’s reaction to stress. When your brain detects a stressful situation, your HPA axis is instantly activated and releases a hormone called cortisol, which primes your body for instant action. But high levels of cortisol over long periods of time wreak havoc on your brain. For example, chronic stress increases the activity level and number of neural connections in the amygdala, your brain’s fear center. And as levels of cortisol rise, electric signals in your hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with learning, memories, and stress control, deteriorate.

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The hippocampus also inhibits the activity of the HPA axis, so when it weakens, so does your ability to control your stress. That’s not all, though. Cortisol can literally cause your brain to shrink in size.

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Too much of it results in the loss of synaptic connections between neurons and the shrinking of your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain the regulates behaviors like concentration, decision-making, judgement, and social interaction. It also leads to fewer new brain cells being made in the hippocampus. This means chronic stress might make it harder for you to learn and remember things, and also set the stage for more serious mental problems, like depression and eventually Alzheimer’s disease.

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It’s not all bad news, though. There are many ways to reverse what cortisol does to your stressed brain. The most powerful weapons are exercise and meditation, which involves breathing deeply and being aware and focused on your surroundings. Both of these activities decrease your stress and increase the size of the hippocampus, thereby improving your memory.

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So don’t feel defeated by the pressures of daily life. Get in control of your stress before it takes control of you.

From the TED-Ed Lesson: How stress affects your brain:

Animation by Andrew Zimbelman/TED-Ed

Original Source: http://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/03/10/how-stress-affects-your-brain-in-ted-ed-gifs/

 

Major New Construction Health Survey Launched

Trade bodies launch building services sector initiative on employee health

A major initiative on occupational health in the building services engineering sector has been launched by the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and Constructing Better Health.

Starting with a new sector-wide survey, the collaboration aims to provide essential baseline data which will lead to practical occupational health information and support for contractors.

The move follows the recent construction industry ‘Occupational Health Summit’, which was attended by dozens of chief executives and directors of construction firms and trade bodies, including senior representatives from the building services engineering sector.

According to Paul Reeve, Director of Business Services at the ECA:

“There are numerous examples of effective occupational health provision in our sector and, managed properly, it delivers business benefits and the career health of tens of thousands of engineering employees. But while there have been major sector-wide improvements in workplace safety, many contractors still struggle with occupational health.

 “Our survey – which is aimed primarily at employers – aims to find out much more about the current situation, to give us an informed baseline for helping contractors to engage with both physical, and mental, health issues.”

Tim Rook, Director of Technical at BESA comments:

“The contracting and construction environment is one of the most demanding sectors to work in, and the health of those working in our sector should be considered vital to success. By using the results of this survey we will be able to target and promote best practice, to help both on-site operatives and managers.

 “I would encourage everyone to take part as fully and honestly as they can to make this initiative really valuable to the sector, the wider industry, and their own businesses”.

Bob Blackman MBE, Chairman of Constructing Better Health, adds:

“Our collaborative survey will help us to further demystify the cloudy perceptions about occupational health and target those areas where our members and industry colleagues aren’t making the most of the resources at hand.

 “The most important message to share with employees is that occupational health management exists to ensure that your job doesn’t affect your health negatively. Ill-health impacts physical and economic well-being, so therefore, utilise all the occupational health services available to you. There’s help at hand.”

Reeve concludes: “We urge all building services engineering companies to complete this short, confidential questionnaire, so we have the best possible information to help the sector move forward with cost effective occupational health management.”

The overall survey findings will be shared with key stakeholders across the industry in the second quarter of this year. The occupational health survey can be completed here, and is open until Wednesday April 13.

BUPA admits care home safety failings after death of woman, 91

A daughter whose 91-year-old mother died after falling from her bed in a Bupa-owned care home wept after she saw the firm prosecuted for breaking health and safety law.

Dementia patient Josephine Millard was found dead next to her bed at the Beacon Edge home in Penrith.

At the magistrates’ court in Carlisle, a lawyer representing Bupa Care Homes entered guilty pleas to two charges – failing to ensure Mrs Millard’s safety and failing to give its staff adequate safety training.

A crown court judge will further consider the case in April.

The prosecution has come just two years after three staff from the same Penrith home were prosecuted in an unrelated case at Carlisle Crown Court for systematically abusing patients who were in their care.

After seeing the guilty pleas entered in court this week, Mrs Millard’s daughter Kate Lilley spoke of the impact of the tragedy.

 “My mother was a gentle caring person who would not have hurt a fly,” said said a tearful Mrs Lilley.

“She deserved a more peaceful end than the one she had. She had no voice because she was affected by Alzheimer’s and was profoundly deaf.

“We turned to Bupa to give her care and support in her last months. But I have to say that we have been let down. All I ever wanted was to be her voice because she didn’t have one of her own.”

During a brief hearing before a deputy district judge in Carlisle, Eleanor Sanderson, representing Bupa Care Homes Limited, formally entered guilty pleas to the two charges brought by the Health & Safety Executive.

The first charge admitted by Bupa was that the firm failed to provide “care and support for people with dementia type illnesses”, or to ensure “persons not in their employment, namely Mrs Josephine Millard, have not been exposed to risks.”

The second-admitted charge was that Bupa failed to ensure all its staff using beds and bedrails were given adequate health and safety training.

Chris Morris, prosecuting, told the court: “Essentially, this prosecution finds its way to court because of an investigation into the treatment of Mrs Millard, a 91-year-old resident of the defendant’s home.”

Mr Morris said that the prosecution’s case was that the care home exposed Mrs Millard, over a considerable period, to risk, and that Bupa had been guilty of “multiple failings”.

The pensioner’s body was found next to her bed on the morning of September 24, 2013.

The case was so serious, said Mr Morris, that only a crown court judge would have sufficient sentencing powers.

For the company, Mrs Sanderson said the full extent of the prosecution version of what happened was not accepted. When the case goes before the crown court on April 1, Bupa will advance a basis for its guilty pleas.

It will be for a judge to rule on the factual basis of the firm’s guilt.

In 2013, the Beacon Edge came under scrutiny after a new worker there witnessed horrific abuse of elderly residents.

The subsequent police investigation led to the prosecution of three care assistants. William Bowman, 22, of Bowscar, Penrith, admitted eight counts of ill-treating six patients while Chevonne Benson, 23, of Roman Road, Penrith, admitted 10 similar offences against seven victims.

Claire Strong, 21, of Crooklands View, Clifton, near Penrith, admitted three counts of ill-treating three elderly patients by taking and then sharing photos of them in humiliating situations.

Prosecutors said Bowman and Benson systematically ill-treated patients for months, their abuse including assaults, hair pulling, name calling, and various sick pranks.

The cruelty came to light only when Penrith woman Lorna Burns started work at the home – but she resigned almost immediately because she was so sickened by what she saw.

She reported what she had seen to the home’s manager, who immediately alerted the authorities.

A spokeswoman for the home said Bupa staff wanted to offer their condolences to Mrs Millard’s family.

She added: “The case arises from events that took place more than two years ago.

“While we are not able to discuss the detail of the case because it is ongoing, we have co-operated fully with the HSE and safeguarding investigations.

“We have worked very hard over the last two years delivering extra training and making a number of changes to improve the care our residents’ receive.

“This was recognised in the latest Care Quality Commission inspection, which rated the home as good and compliant in all areas. Our residents’ well-being is our top priority and everyone at the home is safe and well.”

The most up-to-date CQC report on Beacon Edge, published after an unannounced visit in February last year, concluded that the safety of services at the home “needs improvement”.

Inspectors concluded that Beacon Edge staff treated residents with “kindness and respect” but pointed out that on some occasions there were not enough workers on duty to meet their needs. Residents were protected from abuse because staff were trained in the protection of vulnerable residents, said inspectors.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1poXK6y

IOSH holds Parliamentary reception on mental health

Education, training and awareness are the key to mentally-healthy workforces, a Parliamentary reception heard.

Andrew Mitchell 2016 croppedThe Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) invited recently-elected MPs – who have taken up their role since the 2015 general election – and new peers to its ‘Promoting Mental Health at Work’ event.

It was hosted by Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield. IOSH president Dr Karen McDonnell gave an opening address before further speeches from mental health experts Lord Layard and Dr Paul Litchfield.

Dr McDonnell said that with one in six workers in the UK suffering from mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression, it is important that organisations ensure that work is safe, healthy and supportive.

She said: “IOSH believes that we need to improve education, training and awareness for key groups. These include policy-makers, managers, GPs and other professionals. We need to make sure that work is better designed and better managed and that we pick up early signs of problems and take prompt and effective action.”

Dr McDonnell added: “We know that positive feelings about work are linked with higher productivity, profitability and customer and worker loyalty.

“Lots of good employers are realising the benefits of developing a culture of care and treating mental health at work with the same importance as physical health – seeing it as a positive investment, not a cost.”

Dr McDonnell highlighted some employers who have invested in the mental health of their workforce and reaped the rewards.

They included Glasgow City Council, which saved £4.5 million in the first year of a scheme to tackle musculoskeletal disorders and stress, and Leeds Metropolitan University, which saw a 16% fall in stress-related absence through a project designed to tackle it.

About 20 MPs and peers attended the event, held on Monday 22 February.

Mr Mitchell praised the work of IOSH on mental health, adding: “Bringing it out of the shadows and being much clearer about the importance of treating mental health, and how often it can successfully be treated, is a vital part of our work today. Its time has come.”

Lord Layard, a leading economist who has written books on happiness and mental health, told the reception that mental illness is the “biggest single cause of low life satisfaction”.

He said: “Mental health is a huge cost to business but, more important to me, a huge cost to the people themselves. It is important to help people to talk about these issues at work. Line managers have got to be able to say ‘are you alright?’”

Meanwhile Dr Litchfield spoke about his work at BT, where he is chief medical officer, to help tackle the stigma around mental health issues. He said that organisations need a “framework” in place to ensure they have sustained improvements.

He said: “Often the problem for companies is knowing where to start. It can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

“Stigma and unconscious bias are still alive and well in the workplace and we need to consign both to history.”

He went on to highlight how supporting people with mental health issues so they can remain in work pays off for everybody.

Image: Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield hosted the Parliamentary reception on mental health.

Original Source: http://www.iosh.co.uk/News/IOSH-holds-Parliamentary-reception-on-mental-health.aspx?

 

Mental health month: Ten keys to happier living

Action for Happiness, a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society, has produced a list of ten keys to Happier living.

The list is based on a review of the latest research from psychology and related fields. Everyone’s path to happiness is different, but the evidence suggests these ten keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people’s happiness and well-being.

The first five keys (GREAT) are about how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities. They are based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by nef as part of the Foresight Project. The second five keys (DREAM) come from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.

 

Outside: Our daily activities

Giving

Do things for others

Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good!

Relating

Connect with people

Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness.

Exercising

Take care of your body

Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don’t all need to run marathons – there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep!

Appreciating

Notice the world around

Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life – like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day.

Trying

Keep learning new things

Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things – not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more.

 

Inside: Our Attitude to life

Direction

Have goals to look forward to

Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them.

Resilience

Find ways to bounce back

All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it’s not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned.

Emotion

Take a positive approach

Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.

Acceptance

Be comfortable with who you are

No-one’s perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people’s outsides. Dwelling on our flaws – what we’re not rather than what we’ve got – makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are.

Meaning

Be part of something bigger

People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.

 

 

About the Ten Keys

The Ten Keys to Happier Living framework was jointly developed by Vanessa King and the Action for Happiness team. You can find out more on the Action for Happiness website.

20 March is the UN international day of happiness and we will be encouraging people all around the world to get involved, take action and help spread more happiness www.dayofhappiness.net and http://www.un.org/en/events/happinessday

Original Source: http://www.shponline.co.uk/mental-health-month-ten-keys-to-happier-living/?

Mental health investment “a step in right direction”

New investment into mental health services in the UK is “a step in the right direction”, according to the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

The NHS has pledged an extra £1bn a year of funding into mental health by 2020-21, reaching one million more people.

The announcement comes after a report was published by the Independent Mental Health Task Force, which obtained the views of 20,000 members of the public, people with experience of mental health problems and healthcare professionals.

In the report, it was recognised that mental ill health costs the economy an estimated £105bn a year. It also found that 60-70 per cent of people with common mental health problems are in work but few employees have access to specialist occupational health services.

As a result, a three-pronged approach has been proposed – improving care through prevention, expanding mental health care such as seven day access in a crisis, and integrated physical and mental health care.

IOSH has highlighted the drive to prevent mental illness and giving it parity with physical health as significant developments. The institution is hosting a parliamentary reception on promoting mental health at work next week.

Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs at IOSH, said: “The human, economic and societal costs of failing to manage mental health are neither acceptable nor sustainable.

“So, we’re pleased to see this commitment to improving services and taking action on prevention. It is a step in the right direction.

“IOSH has called for improved training, an end to stigma and better employee access to therapies for a number of years. Far more is needed, but this is a start.”

The new investment is in addition to the previously-announced new funding for children, young people and perinatal care.

IOSH has also applauded the recommendation to improve access to psychological therapies for common mental health problems. The report says that by 2020, the new funding should ensure that the therapies reach 25 per cent of those who need them, helping 600,000 more people access care.

Original Source: http://www.iosh.co.uk/News/Mental-health-investment.aspx?

Duchess of Cambridge calls for ‘taboo’ of mental health to be broken

The Duchess of Cambridge has called for the “taboo” of mental health to be broken as she guest edits The Huffington Post for the day.

Kate wrote that for too long parents have been “embarrassed” to admit children need psychiatric care, worried of the stigma this may attract.

But she said it was time for our perception of mental illness to change, and said she and her husband, the Duke of Cambridge, “would not hesitate” to seek help if their children, two-year-old George and nine-month-old Charlotte, needed it.

Her comments came in a blog post written for The Huffington Post website to mark the launch of an editorial series called Young Minds Matter which discusses children and mental health.

The Duchess began campaigning on mental health soon after getting married and is patron of several related charities.

She wrote: “As was to be expected, I often heard some heart-breaking stories about lives that had been torn apart, with devastating impacts for all involved, particularly children.

“What I did not expect was to see that time and time again, the issues that led people to addiction and destructive decision-making seemed to almost always stem from unresolved childhood challenges.

“It became clear to me that many children – even those younger than five – have to deal with complex problems without the emotional resilience, language or confidence to ask for help.

“And it was also clear that, with mental health problems still being such a taboo, many adults are often too afraid to ask for help for the children in their care.”

She called for this “to change” and for children’s mental health to be seen as every bit as important as their physical well-being.

She added: “For too long we have been embarrassed to admit when our children need emotional or psychiatric help, worried that the stigma associated with these problems would be detrimental to their futures.”

The Duchess said parenting is hard enough without letting prejudices stop people from asking for help.

And as a mother herself, she said she and husband William will do all they can to encourage their children to speak about their feelings and seek psychiatric support if they need it.

She wrote: “Like most parents today, William and I would not hesitate to seek help for our children if they needed it.

“We hope to encourage George and Charlotte to speak about their feelings, and to give them the tools and sensitivity to be supportive peers to their friends as they get older.

“We know there is no shame in a young child struggling with their emotions or suffering from a mental illness.”

She acknowledged that seeking help is not alwayseasy, and that poorer families can struggle to know where to get mental health support, and called for schools and communities to rally round and support children.

From a temporary newsroom set up in Kensington Palace, Kate will discuss articles, blogs and videos she commissioned to raise awareness about the psychological well-being of children.

And she paid tribute to the “extraordinary people and organisations” that have contributed to the mental health series.

She added: “Together, we have the chance to make a real difference for an entire generation of young children.”

Original Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/duchess-of-cambridge-calls-for-taboo-of-mental-health-to-be-broken-as-she-guest-edits-huffington-a6879031.html

Mental health focus: Crossrail’s mental health first aid

Steve Hails, Director of Health & Safety at Crossrail, looks at how mental health is managed within Crossrail, and what support is offered to the workforce.

Mental Health & Wellbeing is a core influencer on people’s ability to perform effectively, efficiently, safely and with creativity. To ensure that Crossrail truly engages with the mental health at work agenda it provides, advice, support, skills and tools so that our staff have the emotional health and fitness to think clearly and react safely no matter the pressure faced in work or out of work. We have developed a mental health and wellbeing programme that incorporates psychological wellbeing and physical health and fitness, so that our staff perform to their very best whilst at work.

We encourage our contractors to promote the importance of the predominantly male workforce looking after their health, seeking advice from various areas around physical and mental health. Our current focus on mental health involves mental health first aiders, training people to be the “go to” person in the first instance for someone who may be dealing with certain issues that may give rise to psychological challenges or ill health.

Crossrail’s mental health and wellbeing programme includes:

  • Addressing the stigma of mental health through research on attitudes to mental health and the effectiveness of online training and encouraging storytelling.
  • Training wellbeing champions/mental health first aiders to provide information, support and signposting for those with mental health & wellbeing conditions.
  • Delivery of practical workshops on personal resilience, stress management, fatigue, nutrition, exercise and mindfulness, with supporting guidance.
  • Engaging with various networks and campaigns to ensure Crossrail is involved in the development of good practice and shared learning i.e. Public Health Responsibility Deal, Time to Talk, London Health & wellbeing week, City Mental Health Alliance, Business in the Community, Health in Construction Leadership Group.
  • Opportunities for staff to engage with Crossrail on their personal and business mental health requirement, through the Crossrail-wide wellbeing survey and feedback sessions from all initiatives.

The programme aims to address mental health at a corporate and individual level, providing advice to both prevent ill health and promote good health.

Reflecting on the importance of mental health at Crossrail, Steve said: “Here at Crossrail Health & Safety is at the heart of everything we do. Looking after the health of our people is not only the right thing to do, it is vital if we are to deliver the project on time and within funding and help build a productive workforce capable of delivering the unprecedented number of major projects just around the corner.

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“With a concerted effort over the last decade, the construction industry has dramatically improved the safety of its workforce. We can have a similar impact on mental health with an equally determined effort by the industry and its supporting organisations.”

We collaborate with our supply chain to provide appropriate guidance and direction to our workforce to allow them to make informed decisions about their own health and wellbeing.

Original Source: http://www.shponline.co.uk/mental-health-focus-crossrails-mental-health-first-aid/?