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Suicide Prevention – How to help your employees

Wellness | 5-minute read

Posted on: Thursday September 07, 2023

by Zach Berwick, New Business Development Director

Did you know that over 700,000 lives are lost to suicide every year? That's one person every 40 seconds, according to the World Health Organization. In the UK alone,115 people die by suicide every week, and a striking 75% of those deaths are males.

Suicide is an incredibly complex issue, often without a single event or factor that can explain why someone takes their own life. But here's the important part: suicide is preventable. Many individuals who experience a suicidal crisis can, and do, recover. The key lies in recognising the signs and taking action.

If you notice your employees struggling with their mental health, remember that you can make a difference.

Here’s what you can do as an employer to help:

Introducing an Employee Benefits package is a good place to start. Offering everything from discounts, gym memberships, OnDemand GP services and Employee Assistance Programmes the platform helps drive employee loyalty and motivation. 

The first rule to remember is to help normalise the conversation about mental health so your employees feel supported to talk about their issues. Personal Group’s Employee Benefits platform gives you access to the award-winning assistance programme offered by our partner Health Assured. 

But what can you do now...?

1. Be flexible

It's essential to recognise that each employee is unique, and their experiences with suicidal feelings can vary greatly. You might feel unable to cope with the difficult feelings you are experiencing. Consider flexible working, such as adjusting hours or remote working (if possible) to help your staff achieve a better work-life balance. 
Make modifications to the work environment to help employees who may be struggling.

2. Make “clocking-off” sacred

Long-hours working is not a sustainable way of operating and will take its toll on people. Make sure your employees go home on time. Regular breaks also play a crucial role in maintaining employee focus and energy during the workday. Furthermore, respect personal time by avoiding after-hours emails and calls – setting clear boundaries is key.

3. Set realistic goals

Unmanageable workloads are the main cause of work-related stress. Setting unattainable goals can overwhelm employees, leading to anxiety and potential health issues. Instead of just focusing on clocking off, consider recognising achievements and effectiveness, not just hours worked, to promote a healthier work environment.

4. Think about mental health training

St John Ambulance offers a wide range of Mental Health First Aider courses to upskill your team and provide real hands-on support.

We also have an article on How to ask for help with mental wellbeing which covers people and places your employees can go to for free and confidential support. Online GP is usually a good place to start, but the right solution depends on the situation and how they are feeling.

5. Signpost help

You can’t force someone to seek help — but you can make sure they know that you’re there for them and will support them if they do. 
Our Employee Benefits Confidential Support Line, available 24/7, 365 days a year, provides expert guidance on a wide range of issues, including finances, relationships, legal concerns, and more. Providing help at your employees’ fingertips whenever and wherever they need it is a key benefit which will help your staff and your business.

6. Reach out

Many employers worry that reaching out will be intrusive or make things worse. You’ll soon be able to tell if your employer isn’t comfortable or doesn’t want to have that kind of conversation. If they don’t want to open up, you’ll still have let them know you’re there for them.
If you’re worried your employee is suicidal, it’s okay to ask them directly. Research shows that this helps - because it gives them permission to tell you how they feel and shows that they are not a burden.

Evidence shows asking someone if they're suicidal can protect them. They feel listened to, and hopefully less trapped. Their feelings are validated, and they know that somebody cares about them. Reaching out can save a life.

Rory O'Connor, Professor of Health Psychology at Glasgow University

Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy. World Suicide Prevention Day was set up to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide. 

Remember, there's no 'one-size-fits-all' solution for mental health at work. To make your workplace better for everyone, listen to and help each employee in a way that suits them. This makes them feel valued, heard, and supported on their mental health journey.



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