Network Rail has joined digital charity Mental Health Innovations and the wider rail industry to remind the public that help is just a text message away this World Mental Health Day (Tuesday 10 October).
The new campaign, Make a Connection, encourages people to text the word ‘Journey’ to 85258 to access the Shout service - run by Mental Health Innovations - for free and confidential mental health support, 24/7. It forms part of the rail industry’s efforts to help reduce suicides on the network by engaging with the public upstream and signposting them to mental health support services at the earliest opportunity.
The campaign comes as a new nationwide report identifies the top reasons why people contact the Shout text message support service. The analysis, comprising more than two million anonymised text message conversations with 680,000 people, shows nearly a fifth of all users (17%) had loneliness as an issue. Meanwhile, over half of users texting Shout about loneliness are under 25-years-old (65%) with over a quarter (27%) being between the ages of 14-17 and nearly one in ten (9%) being 13 and under.
Reasons for loneliness highlighted by the report include relationship breakdowns, bereavement and relocation to new areas without friends, family, or community networks. The report finds making meaningful connections, where you feel fully supported and valued, is fundamental to positive mental health and a key antidote to loneliness.
Emily Middlebrough knows the importance of making meaningful connections. After feeling isolated at university and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder aged 22, Emily contacted Shout for help. Living in busy student halls, the silent and discreet nature of Shout appealed and helped to set her on a journey to recovery. Emily now writes about having bipolar disorder to show others they’re not alone and, having been inspired by the person who helped her when she needed it the most, has gone on to become a Shout Volunteer.
You can watch Emily's story here.
Emily said: “Just being able to message someone who would listen without judgement to all my worries and how much I was struggling with my diagnosis was a game changer. They didn’t tell me what to do or how to feel, instead empowering me to make my own decisions about my care and what I needed at that time.
“The experience has helped to shape the person I am today and I’d encourage everyone to talk about how they’re feeling. Reaching out for help and making that connection made a real difference.”
Dr Mark Ungless, Director of Data Insights, Mental Health Innovations said: “Making meaningful connections plays an important role in supporting good mental health and wellbeing. Shout is playing a crucial role in offering people the opportunity to make a meaningful, digital connection when they are feeling lonely and in distress.”
Louise McNally, suicide prevention lead, Network Rail said: “World Mental Health Day is a timely reminder that we continue to look out for each other and ourselves. That’s why we’re encouraging people to make that important connection through the Shout text message support service.”
To find out more about Make a Connection, visit giveusashout.org/latest/make-a-connection