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At Voice Live on 20 November, a team from West Midlands Trains will share their story of how they shifted the internal culture in a bid to improve mental health.

Those who have faced large organisational upheaval will applaud the bravery of West Midlands Trains, which addressed the uncertainty felt company-wide by encouraging employees to talk frankly about their mental health.

In the face of change – a large, complicated and high-profile franchise takeover – internal communications and safety and health colleagues collaborated to instil cultural change in mental health.

Together, they tackled the subject head-on by creating an emotive, engaging – and award-winning1– campaign to encourage colleagues to talk.

Opening up in a male-dominated workforce

Even in 2018, mental health is still often a hidden problem, especially in the workplace. One in four of us will experience mental health problems at some point in our lifetime.

As you can imagine, West Midlands Trains is a disparate, hard-to-reach workforce, made up mostly of men – a challenging audience for any campaign, let alone one on mental health.

As then internal comms manager Kate Goodman says: “Our main priority was to achieve a change in the perception of mental health, to destigmatise it and make it into something that people talk about. 

“In an organisation that is over 80 per cent male-dominated, heavily unionised and where banter still features prominently in depot mess-rooms, this was no easy task.”

A bold move during time of change

West Midlands Trains launched their Hear to Listen campaign on World Mental Health Day – a poignant day, although in the middle of the huge railway franchise changing hands.

As Kate notes: “A key challenge was that we were demobilising one franchise and getting ready to embrace another – without knowing what the new brand, tone of voice or objectives were.

“Not only did this mean we had to create a campaign with impact, but it also had to work long-term with a brand that we had not yet had sight of.”

So what happened next?

Find out at Voice Live on 20 November, where Kate Goodman and safety and mental health professionals from West Midlands Trains will talk about the project and show one of their campaign videos (pictured below) in an in-depth case study session.

1Best ongoing campaign, 2018 IoIC Awards




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