ScotRail customer service team leader Christopher Harvie has been praised for his quick-thinking when he intervened to help a distressed customer in Haymarket station recently.
His swift actions to comfort the customer and usher them to a place of safety until the emergency services arrived prevented the person from coming to any harm.
Christopher, from Edinburgh, is one of over 50 ScotRail employees who recently received mental health first-aid training through NHS-accredited material and so was able to identify someone who was developing a mental health issue and guide them to the relevant support service.
Tuesday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day, and throughout the week, ScotRail is offering support to customers by taking part in Conversation Cafés. These see representatives from the Railway Mission, Samaritans, NHS24 Breathing Space, ScotRail and British Transport Police, amongst other organisations, engaging passengers in conversations about mental health issues.
People are being reminded that, if they become concerned about someone they see on the railway or elsewhere, they should trust their instincts and strike up a conversation with a simple question such as asking about the weather, or where they’re travelling today. Suicidal thoughts can often be temporary.
There’s no evidence that talking to someone who could be at risk can make things worse so, if they think someone may need help, they should introduce themselves, encourage the distressed person to talk and focus on listening.
People who don’t feel comfortable approaching the person themselves should tell a member of staff, a police officer or dial 999. It’s important to act and not just walk away.
ScotRail’s head of customer operations Phil Campbell said: “It’s fantastic to see that our mental health training has had a positive effect and I’m proud to have Christopher represent ScotRail, but it doesn’t take training to make a difference.
“I’d encourage anyone who sees someone who they think may be at risk to offer a simple smile and a hello. It can change someone’s mindset and make a huge difference to not just their lives, but the lives of their friends and family.”
Christopher Harvie added: “As one of the thousands of people working on the frontline of Scotland’s Railway, I know how important a role I have in helping vulnerable people.
“The mental health first aid training I received was really helpful in giving me valuable skills to notice the signs of a person in need.
“I am really happy that I was able to use those skills and play a part in helping to potentially save someone’s life.”