Exclusive: TfL staff suffer stress, anxiety and depression while number of suicide attempts on the Tube hits 600
Nearly 6,000 Transport for London (TfL) staff have received counselling for issues including stress, anxiety, depression, train suicide and harassment, City A.M. can exclusively reveal.
Figures obtained through a freedom of information request show that 5,810 Transport for London (TfL) staff received counselling between 2010 and 2016.
TfL has spent over £4.4m since 2010 counselling staff or close to £630,000 every year.
Tube drivers were the single largest group of staff who were referred for counselling in 2015/16.
The top three reasons employees sought counselling were stress (450), anxiety (232) and depression (200). Other reasons included relationships, assault and anger management.
Tube staff took over 15,500 face-to-face counselling sessions between 2013 and 2016, the figures show.
Read more: Travel sickness: Tube staff took over 163,000 sick days last year
Finn Brennan, from the Aslef rail union, said: “Tube drivers spend eight hours a day working in a small metal box deep underground while coping with the pressure of a demanding job…it's not surprising that some suffer from stress or depression occasionally.
“Ensuring that people are supported when problems arise is the best way to stop issues getting worse.”
City A.M. can also exclusively reveal that there have been nearly 600 suicide attempts on the Tube since 2003.
The central line saw the most number of Tube suicides (119) followed by the Northern (110) and Piccadilly Lines (95).
Between 2015 and 2016, 91 Tube drivers sought counselling for person under the train incidents.
Brennan added: “These figures demonstrate the pressure that tube staff, and especially drivers, work under as they do their best to cope with the demands placed upon them.
“It's right that TfL support their hard working staff, especially those who have to deal with the terrible trauma of suicides on the Underground.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, called for more investment to install platform edge doors in order to discourage suicide attempts.
“It is hard to think of a more harrowing and horrific experience than to be in a train cabin and witness someone jumping onto the tracks. Recovering from such an incident will often be a painful and lengthy process, with mental scars left for the rest of someone’s life.
“Whether you agree or disagree with any of the issues behind the recent industrial disputes, I have no doubt that the public support drivers receiving the very best support and assistance they need following any suicide incident they witness.
“At the same time as supporting drivers we also need to ensure every reasonable step is taken to reduce suicide attempts on the London Underground. Investment in more platform edge doors as already exist on the Jubilee Line is something TfL should be considering, especially at new and refurbished stations.”
Read more: Revealed: Tube drivers take 1,000 days in sick leave per week
Olivia Carlton, TfL's head of occupational health, said: “The health and well-being of our 27,000 staff is a major priority for us. We manage a network on which more than 31m journeys take place each day and the safety of our employees and our customers is paramount.
"Our staff have access to a telephone helpline provided by an external company as well as in-house one to one counselling and group sessions to teach stress reduction techniques. Counselling is a safe and cost effective way of helping people who may be suffering from stress, depression, bereavement or other issues – getting them back to work and in many cases preventing future absence.”