How you can help.
Every 10th October we welcome World Mental Health Awareness Day. This year the theme of the day is suicide prevention. Within the UK last year there was 1 death in every 10,000 people. Within a large organisation this makes it likely that at least one employee has been affected by the suicide of a friend or relative. Men account for 2 thirds of this figure. With women the group at highest risk is age 50-55 – the average age of the onset of menopause is 51.
What can you and your company can do to support your employees and their families?
Whilst it is not always possible to predict who will be at risk of suicide, we know that any of the following increase the risk:
- Feeling isolated
- Being discriminated against
- Experiencing a psychological or physical trauma
- Longstanding history of ill health or pain
- Having lost a loved one to suicide
- Mental health stigma reducing the likelihood of asking for help
- Lack of resources preventing the person from accessing help
Many people experience intrusive thoughts about death or ending their own life. Not everyone who has these thoughts will act on them. There are a number of protective factors that stop a person acting on these thoughts.
- Feeling like part of a community and having strong relationships
- The ability to access support
- Having the problems solving skills to be able to mange the challenges of short-term distress
- Having hope for the future.
As a company consider the following:
- Do your employees have time to be able to find out about the services available to them?
- Can your employees afford to take time off to attend healthcare appointments?
- Does your company have a policy on how it supports staff experiencing ill mental health? Or life changes like the menopause? Having flexible working procedures so that a person can maintain their work around their health can make an employee feel valued.
- Do the working hours allow staff to maintain active lifestyles and have a routine and connection with their community at home?
- Does the everyday routine of work allow staff to feel part of a community?
- How do you promote mental health in the workplace and upskill your staff to be able to have supportive compassionate conversations? Absolute Works are local, HR experts trained and very happy to offer a free advice on this subject: 01926 355 560 https://absoluteworks.co.uk/mentalhealthmatters/
- How do you make your staff feel valued? Are they given the opportunity to develop their strengths and skills? Evidence shows that by playing to a person’s strengths they will be able to be more effective and protective.
- The Mental Health Foundation has a guide for companies on supporting mental health: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-support-mental-health-work
- Make sure employees know about their legal rights in the workplace and that they won’t be penalised for disclosing mental health. As an employer the Equality Act 2010 places a duty on the organisation to ensure that people are not discriminated against and have reasonable adjustments in place.
- Do you employees have access to affordable nourishing food, adequate restful breaks and the chance to be active at work.
As an individual consider:
- Do you feel comfortable talking about mental health?
- What will make you feel more confident?
- Remember your role is not to “fix things” but a short conversation can make the difference. Talking about suicide does not increase the risk of someone harming themselves. Showing care and respect for the person can reduce the stigma and reduce risks.
- If you notice someone acting out of character, it is OK to tell that person that you are concerned. You can ask that person do they have suicidal thoughts.
If you need help yourself:
Book an appointment with your G.P. The G.P. will talk to you about treatment options and explore what will help you at the moment. There are a great range of treatment and support that can be accessed from home or your local community.
You may want to access a private therapist. Ensure that they are registered with HCPC or BACP as this ensures there is a regulatory body ensuring a high standard.
If you can get or keep active www.moodlifter.co.uk has tips on how to do this
If you need help right now:
- NHS can offer health advice by calling 111
- Samaritans offer a 24/7 listening service on 116123 or email email@example.com
- Paparyus have a Helpline for anyone under the age of 35 on 0800 068 4141, text 07786209697
- CALM is a helpline for men to talk about any troubles on 0800585858
- NHS Every Mind Matters: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
- Sarah Meharg is an occupational therapist and personal trainer working to help people feel fitter and stronger physically and mentally: www.moodlifter.co.uk
- Absolute Works offer support and advice on any HR or Employment Law issues including mental health problems and mental health training sessions: https://absoluteworks.co.uk/news/