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First Bus unveils comprehensive training for colleagues on Mental Health Awareness Week

  • UK wide training programme aimed at upskilling colleagues so they can support others with mental health and wellbeing issues.
  • Over 250 colleagues have become approved Mental Health First Aiders across the business. 
  • Extensive Mental Health Champion training delivered to every line manager in the business by the end of the summer. 

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, First Bus is delighted to celebrate the rollout of two new mental health training programmes, reaffirming its commitment to a proactive wellbeing approach.

Research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that stress and burnout are fast becoming the primary causes of sickness absence in the UK. They analysed sickness absence and employee health among 918 organisations representing 6.5 million employees, with 76% of respondents reporting they had taken time off due to stress in the past year.


In response to the research, First Bus joined forces with two field expert companies, Mental Health First Aid England and State of Mind, to upskill its people to deal with mental wellbeing issues and to improve the support for all colleagues across the business.

The partnership with Mental Health First Aid England now means that over 250 colleagues have become approved Mental Health First Aiders.

Mental Health First Aiders provide urgent support to those experiencing poor mental health, signposting and encouraging them to seek appropriate help. They also play a vital role in reducing stigma associated with mental health.

In addition to this, First Bus has teamed up with mental health charity State of Mind to ensure every line manager receives training to become a Mental Health Champion by the end of the summer.

This training gives managers the skills they need to have day-to-day conversations with their teams and offer mental health support on an ongoing basis, not just in an emergency.

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Gareth Hind, Director of Colleague Experience and Relations at First Bus, said: “Mental health referrals are on the rise and this year we’ve seen more cases than ever before. It’s important we support our colleagues that need urgent help and care, but also provide our people with the tools and skills they need to cope with the pressures of everyday life.

"By every line manager becoming a Mental Health Champion, we are maturing our approach to mental health in our business, and with the support of the 250 Mental Health First Aiders, every colleague can be confident they'll receive mental health support should they need it.”

Isabelle Hartley, Client Lead for First Bus at Mental Health First Aid England, said: “It is a privilege to work with First Bus, delivering a range of mental health knowledge, awareness and skills. We know that the transport sector has a disproportionately high rate of mental ill health, with around four in ten cases of work-related ill-health due to stress, depression or anxiety.

"First Bus are working hard to shift the dialogue around mental health and support their people and their communities. They are playing a vital part in improving the mental health of the nation and they should feel proud of all they have achieved.”

Ian Smith, Ambassador and Speaker for State of Mind, said: “Over the last couple of months, it's been a pleasure to be part of delivering ‘Mental Health Champion - Start a Conversation’ sessions with my great friend and colleague Jimmy Gittins from State of Mind Sport.

“These sessions are designed to help line managers understand their role in supporting colleagues with their mental health, building their confidence to start these important conversations.

“The feedback has been incredibly humbling, but the engagement from everyone attending, bringing their own lived experiences, have really made these sessions fantastic. We are proud to be working with First Bus and hope what they are doing is an inspiration for more to follow.”


Notes to editors


Please refer to the attached PDFs, which include three First Bus Mental Health First Aider case studies from around the business about the training programmes and the impact they are having in the business.

CIPD report: Workplace absences soar to highest level in over a decade, finds new report | CIPD

About First Bus

At First Bus, we are on a mission to grow bus usage. We will get behind initiatives that move people out of cars and onto bus.

We’re one of the UK’s largest bus operators, delivering over a million passenger journeys every week for the communities we serve.

First Bus serve 25% of the residential population of the UK with its local bus services, which is over 15% of the market share outside of London.

Transforming our business for the better, we’re putting our people and customers at the heart of all we do.

We’re all about making journeys easier for our customers, which is why we were the first national bus operator to rollout Tap On, Tap Off payment technology across our entire UK fleet of 4500 buses.  Our First Bus app has also been voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. 

First Bus is committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035. By the end of the Spring 2024, 15% of our will fleet will comprise of Zero Emission Buses (ZEBs).

We’re passionate about giving back to the communities we serve, which is why we’re helping local businesses to progress their own decarbonisation journeys with access to our charging hubs while our buses are on the road.

We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland, Specialist Passenger Solutions, First Travel Solutions, York Pullman Bus Company and Ensignbus.  First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.  

Find more information on First Bus here: https://news.firstbus.co.uk/