Today is world suicide prevention day. According to the most recent official figures for England and Wales, the overall suicide rate has risen sharply to its highest level since 2000. Men are more at risk than women. The statistics are truly horrifying - one men dies roughly every two hours in the UK.
These figures pre-date coronavirus and many medical professionals believe that suicide rates will increase this year. The Lancet published a paper on 'Suicide risk and prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic' in April 2020 which speculated that 'suicide is likely to become a more pressing concern as the pandemic spreads and has longer-term effects on the general population, the economy, and vulnerable groups.'
According to the charity National Suicide Prevention Alliance, there are a number of steps that employers can take to help prevent suicide. These include:
- Helping teams get to know one another and connect - there are 15 remote team building games and activities from Miro which you can use.
- Putting in place 'Wellness Action Plans' to help individuals or managers understand and support well-being. Mind have resources for staff and managers here.
- Encouraging conversations around team well-being. STORM Skills Training CIC created a resource that they have found helpful to support a team conversation about emotional wellbeing here.
- Creating social time, particularly in where staff are working remotely. It's a good idea to build in unstructured chat either during the week or at the beginning of meetings to recreate the kitchen or corridor conversations, helping staff feel less isolated.
You should also be able to spot when someone is under too much pressure and appears to be unable to cope with the demands of their job. Our checklist will help you spot the warning signs and to intervene early.
There's loads of resources available to help you to improve the mental health of your staff. ACAS have an excellent step by step guide to promoting positive mental health in the workplace which is a good starting point.
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