Heather's Story

I’ve been working in the railway industry for 15 years now. Less than 1% of freight drivers in the UK are women. They assume it’s going to be dirty and heavy and physically draining, let alone mentally, but to be honest all those things have proven to be false.

Being in such a male dominated industry I’ve recognised men need help in talking about their mental health. It’s something that has really resonated with me since I experienced a rail fatality, which was really quite life changing for me. I’d always known something like that could happen, but nothing could have prepared me for how it actually felt. I was signed off work for three months. My employers supported me – I had counselling and hypnotherapy. One of the things that helped me most was the support I received from colleagues. Big, hard, burly men, who don’t show their emotions, rang me up to say: ‘I’ve been through this too, I’m here for you.’

When I returned to my duties, I knew I wasn’t quite the same person that I’d been before. I was more irritable, less patient than I used to be. I couldn’t watch television crime dramas or anything violent that might remind me of what I’d witnessed.

I found Samaritans’ rail training really useful and got some great insight about the importance of listening and encouraging people to work through their own thoughts, as well as getting them the support they need. I find it heartbreaking that men feel they can’t speak and lives are being lost so needlessly, so I’m always talking to the guys at work and even after ten minutes, I can see the weight of the world lifting from their shoulders and what a difference it can make. It’s about breaking down those barriers and removing some of the uncertainty around mental health.


Find out more about Samaritans Rail Training on their website.