TV presenter Fearne Cotton and footballer-turned-pundit Paul Merson have been announced as speakers for Rail Wellbeing Live.
They join more than 100 others giving presentations at an event which runs from 17 to 18 November.
Fearne’s talk will concentrate on finding the best in each day, whilst Paul will discuss addiction.
They join others set to take part in the event including Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, Mad Girl author Bryony Gordon, SAS: Who Dares Wins star Jason Fox, and Dr Rupy Aujla – the GP behind The Doctor’s Kitchen project.
Rail Wellbeing Live is organised by the Rail Wellbeing Alliance, a cross-industry group made up of train operating companies, suppliers and industry bodies. The free online two-day event offers everyone in the rail sector the opportunity to come together and connect with industry and high-profile speakers to get inspiration, tips and guidance on how to tackle a range of health and wellbeing issues.
New for 2021 will be sessions at 22:00 covering nutrition for shift work and how to reduce fatigue.
All the content over the two days will be livestreamed and available for two weeks following the event, but people need to register to access it.
The event is free to the rail workforce, which currently stands at about 240,000 people. Mental health and wellbeing are important to rail, with suicides at 1.6 times the national average. Meanwhile, the cost to the industry due to both physical and mental health issues stands at £790 million a year covering a 3.9% absence rate – this is more than double the private sector average.
This year, the Office for National Statistics has said that one in five adults in Britain experienced some form of depression in early 2021, which is more than double the level recorded before the pandemic.
Chairman of the Rail Wellbeing Alliance and managing director for Network Rail’s Southern region John Halsall said: “We’re delighted that thousands have already registered, but with 240,000 across the industry, there are so many more people who could benefit from this free event, so I’d encourage everyone across the industry to sign up, if they haven’t already.”
Register for the event here.
Thirty-year-old Rachel Avenell has worked in the Rail Delivery Group communications team for two and a half years. She has suffered from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder for most of her life. She is looking forward to attending this year’s Rail Wellbeing Live.
Rachel said: “I have always been very open about my struggles with mental health. I’ve had anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder for most of my life, along with periods of other mental illness. I use my experiences not only to educate others that OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) isn’t just about being clean or turning a light switch on and off, but to hopefully inspire others to feel safe to discuss their own struggles.
“I fully support Rail Wellbeing Live and think it is even more needed now, as we come out of lockdown and are all adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of working life.
“One in four of us will have a diagnosed mental illness at some point in our lives and I believe that we all go through periods of mental unwellness, however brief they may be. The most effective coping strategy I have is talking about what I’ve been through and what I go through on a daily basis.
“Rail Wellbeing Live is great for introverted people who may not be ready to engage in a conversation about mental health but are either interested or have experienced their own poor mental health and just want to understand a bit more. It’s an opportunity for them to do so, without being in a big crowd of people. There’s such a varied agenda with a mixture of practical sessions, informative sessions and interactive sessions. There really is something for everybody.”