What ‘if anything’ can we do to help those in desperate need for support?
Employees and individuals face many challenges in life and some are impactful and overwhelming on occasions. Sometimes past events, trauma or limiting beliefs can snowball into darkness and overwhelm without warning or being aware of the actual trigger. Managing their rollercoaster of emotions along with stresses and pressures of work and family life, or illness and responsibilities, can be exhausting. Employees wellbeing therefore needs careful monitoring and attention. It’s best to have consistent measures in place to educate and your staff, and therefore reduce the risks to health physically and mentally.
What we know…
- There are around 115 suicide deaths each week in the UK (ONS)
- 75% of the UK deaths are male (ONS)
- 700,000 suicidal deaths are reported each year worldwide. (WHO)
- 1 in 5 people will have thoughts about suicide (NHS Digital)
- 1 in 15 people attempt suicide (NHS Digital)
There are so many little fires that we tackle on a daily basis, just trying to keep our families happy, careers growing and struggling to find some time along the way to add in a little self-care. It’s not surprising that many people feel as though they are a sinking ship.
The cost-of-living crisis is adding additional financial pressures to many households. This in itself is scary, as those who are experiencing financial stress are twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts than those who are financially stable.
Spotting the signs
It will always be difficult to know if someone is having suicidal thoughts, as many intentionally hide these thoughts very well. Suicidal feelings and thoughts are very complex and the reasons and behaviours of each person are unique to them. That said there are some common behaviours that you can look out for:
What they say:
- Talk of dying or life ending
- Speaking of feeling hopeless or without purpose
- Mentioning how much of a burden they are to others
How they behave:
- Changes to usual behaviour
- Substance abuse (including alcohol)
- Not sleeping
- Getting personal affairs in order
- Saying unusually heartfelt goodbyes
- Social withdrawal
How can managers help?
With so many people struggling to maintain good mental health at the moment, it is so important that support is provided by employers, employees knowledge is developed and safe and caring cultures encouraged.
Active and positive steps for managers:
- Reduce stigma about mental health by speaking openly and providing mental health education to ALL staff.
- Provide access to appropriate support and preferably before crisis point hits. Encourage seeking early interventions.
- Regularly check that you are effective in supporting staff and address changes needed.
- Create a caring and compassionate culture. Provide a safe and confidential channel for them to reach out to and listen well. Support groups can also be created within larger establishments.
Supporting through CLASS
C = Connect Make time to check in and connect with staff
L = Listen Let them speak rather than you leading the conversation
A = Assess Have they made plans? Encourage thoughts of what makes life good
S = Support Reassure them you are there for them and they are NOT a burden
S = Signpost Signpost them to professional services such as their GP, NHS 111 or Samaritans