Planning for the New World: A Q&A with Mark Atkinson
Blogs 10th October 2019 2 minutes read
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that someone commits suicide every 40 seconds, somewhere in the world1. That means by the time you’ve finished reading this article, seven people could have taken their own lives. Though not all suicides are connected to mental health, many are. And that’s why Suicide Prevention has been chosen as the theme for this year’s Mental Health Day.
At Green Park, we recognise the importance of promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace. Suicide rates are highest amongst men and women of working age, with men aged 45-49 at most risk2. The fact that people spend so much of their time at work only reinforces the case for introducing measures at work. With this in mind, Green Park hosted a Think Tank at yesterday’s Mad World Summit, which focussed on getting senior leaders to buy in to supporting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Green Park also supports 'This is Me', part of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, by championing The Green Ribbon campaign and working to help #endthestigma of mental health.
As we continue to improve support for mental wellbeing at Green Park, we look at what employers can do to prevent suicide and encourage balanced mental health.
Create an open, supportive culture
Perhaps one of the most fundamental forms of support is a safe and understanding workplace. One where employees feel free to open up and able to be themselves. Strong anti-bullying and discrimination policies should be set out clearly, while senior staff should lead by example, listening without judgment and encouraging communication.
Educating employees about mental health can make a substantial impact. It’s important that they can spot a decline in their own emotional wellbeing or that of a colleague. Sessions on subjects such as depression, bipolar disorder and conditions connected to suicide can raise general awareness. And relevant training – covering suicide prevention – can teach managers how best to help their teams.
When employees are having suicidal thoughts, a trained and sympathetic ear can be critical. Fortunately, there are more resources out there than ever before to help. Make sure your team is aware of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), trained members of staff and any other internal resources. And publicise organisations such as the Samaritans and Mind, and how to access them.
Create a comfortable workspace
Mental health problems are often a key factor in suicide. But for busy employees, a focus on mental wellbeing is rarely a priority. Employers can help by creating an environment where employees are likely to feel happier and less stressed, with lots of light, comfortable working spaces and if possible, the option to work from home.
Create teams that care
A colleague asking another “Are you ok?” might just save a life. Encourage close, friendly teams where people listen and care.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts (or if you know someone who is), you can call the Samaritans, 24/7, 365. Ring 116 123 free for help.
Image Credit: YIPA.org