The statistics surrounding suicide certainly make for shocking reading. In the UK, 115 people die by suicide every week; what’s more, 75 per cent of these cases are male. Behind every statistic is a life lost – a person with family, friends and a wider community who will be affected by the loss forever. The statistics are improving a little over time and have dropped since 2019; however, as mental health charities point out, this is as likely to be down to delays and lags in the reporting of suicide data as to a genuine improvement in national wellbeing. The picture surrounding mental wellbeing and Covid looks far from positive, with more people than ever seeking help for mental illness, loneliness, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and more.
Changing the conversation
There is hope on the horizon, however, as the good news is that mental wellbeing is now firmly on the agenda. A few years ago, it was still swept under the carpet and largely ignored; now, sweeping changes around the way we think, treat and talk about mental good health – and mental illness – means people can feel safe to open up about their own challenges. Let’s be clear: most of us will experience mental and emotional challenges at different points in our life. The more we can be open about this as a topic and understand the risk factors for mental illnesses and treatment approaches, the better it is for everyone.
What RMG Digital is doing to help promote better mental wellbeing
We are proud to be working alongside CALM to stand up against suicide and to encourage positive, open and early discussions about mental health and any concerns. For employers, there is a clear responsibility to support their employees, especially after the challenges of the Covid pandemic during which we have all been more isolated and under more stress than ever.
Fortunately, there is plenty we can do at work to foster a positive mental health awareness environment and tackle any taboos that still exist around mental health discussions.
What employers everywhere can do
Every business will have its own approach, but here are some great – and very workable – approaches that we are adopting at RMG Digital after guidance from our partner CALM.
– Create a supportive environment where staff feel they can discuss their mental wellbeing without judgement, especially with managers. This is vital because it is the first step towards managing any mental health issues in the right way – with support, with understanding, and in line with your HR policies. This may mean training managers to spot issues and have constructive, helpful and open discussions without shame or judgement.
– Foster a culture in which people are encouraged to be supportive of each other, to work as a team, and to look out for others. This is vital, as a supportive and encouraging office culture is one of the most valuable ways to support your existing staff and encourage applications from like-minded individuals who are keen to experience your working ethos and environments.
– Consider partnering with CALM or designating it as your charity of the year. CALM offers vital support and guidance on challenging issues such as suicide prevention and mental wellbeing strategies.
– Put up posters and other visual content around your workplace, on the intranet and on corporate newsletters to encourage people to talk. Even better, encourage senior leaders to be visibly and proactively in support of these initiatives to positively reinforce the ‘shadow of the leader’.
Suicide prevention is something we all need to work together to achieve. Together – and with the right strategies, efforts and collective support – we can improve the outcomes for thousands of desperate people every year.