Go North East, the region’s largest bus company, teamed up with Newcastle United Foundation for World Mental Health Day on Thursday 10 October.

The bus operator, which has over 2,100 employees, kicked off its internal mental health and wellbeing awareness campaign with a series of activities and enlisted the help of Newcastle United Foundation.

The foundation joined Go North East at their Gateshead Riverside depot to promote its ‘Be A Game Changer’ campaign and get team members engaging and talking about mental health.

The bus company has also invested in its workforce, with all managers at Go North East undergoing mental health awareness training, and with figures published recently highlighting that the North East has the highest male suicide rate in the country, there is an increased importance on removing the stigma around mental health.

Go North East has its own internal Occupational Health Team which is there to support and guide team members, and has also displayed mental health awareness posters and flyers across all its depots and locations, in canteens, break rooms and reception areas, as well as promoting a number activities across their internal website, app and Facebook groups.

Martijn Gilbert, Managing Director at Go North East, said: “As a major employer we want to get more of our workforce talking about mental health, helping to break down any stigma associated with something that can affect 1 in 4 people each year.

“Our activities on World Mental Health Day are just the start of a wide-ranging programme of discussion and support based activities and we’re delighted to be joined by the Newcastle United Foundation, who are doing great things with their ‘Be A Game Changer’ campaign.”

Ashley Lowe, Health and Wellbeing Manager at Newcastle United Foundation, added: “We were delighted to receive an invitation from Go North East to join them on World Mental Health Day and engage with their team members.

“The power of the Newcastle United badge can act as a catalyst for local people to strike up much-needed conversations, and is a great way to break down stigma and feelings of shame or isolation.

“We know there is a need for this type of activity as the North East has the highest rates of suicide nationally and 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem. To put that in perspective, that could be almost 13,000 people at a Newcastle United home game. By encouraging work colleagues to ‘be a game changer’ and talk about mental health we can work together to reduce these terrifying statistics.”

To find out more about Go North East visit gonortheast.co.uk and for further information on Newcastle United Foundation’s ‘Be A Game Changer’ mental health awareness campaign head to nufoundation.org.uk/beagamechanger.