Supporting mental health in the workplace is at the top of many employers’ agendas, with many recognising that they have a duty of care to look after their staff. However, a company knowing it needs to offer support, and knowing how to offer support, are two quite different things.
Best practice mental health support
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD is keen to help employers realise that they may already have excellent mental health support available under their group risk protection benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness benefits).
These products are best known for the financial support they provide for employees and their families on death, a life changing accident, illness or disability, or on a devastating diagnosis. However, what is less well known is that these products actually offer some of the most valuable employee support available for mental health in the workplace.
Support can include:
- Critical Incident Support
- Wellbeing drop-in days
- Employee Assistance Programmes
- Face-to-face counselling
- Free access to online guides
- Bereavement counselling
Support for families and colleagues too
Group risk protection providers can arrange for Critical Incident Support to be offered in the workplace when people have been killed by violent acts such as terrorism or knife crime; and they can do the same when a colleague dies by suicide or any other sudden death.
World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this week highlighted the shocking rate of suicide in the UK – but for every one person that dies by suicide, many more are impacted.
While we may have a picture in our minds of what someone dealing with depression or who has suicidal thoughts may look like, in fact there are often no outward signs. So when someone dies by suicide it can be a shock to all those around.
Support offered by specialists immediately following the aftermath of a sudden death can be a saviour for people dealing with the shock and emotional toll.
It is estimated that for every suicide a further 135 people will experience intense grief or be otherwise affected.
For this reason, group risk protection benefits usually extend support for colleagues and families.
Training for Mental Health Support and Suicide Prevention
There are often no outside signs to the layman that a person is struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, however trained managers may be able to offer assistance and signpost the benefits available, such as counselling or a helpline provided by your group risk policy.
In the workplace, consider offering mental health first aid training for line managers and interactive mood meters where employees can monitor their own mood levels.
There are two elements that are equally important in terms of mental health support: offer it and communicate it.
There is no point providing mental health support if employees don’t know it exists. Group risk providers and advisers are on hand to help employers communicate in the most effective way.
As highlighted in the Stevenson Farmer review, we all have mental health and we all fluctuate between thriving, struggling or being ill. Employees may not need support all the time, but it’s important they always know it’s there so they can access it when they do need to.
Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said:
“It is often really difficult to get timely help for mental ill health, as anyone knows that has experienced poor mental health themselves or lived or worked with anyone that has. Group risk protection benefits are some of the most advanced in terms of their mental health support. Truly holistic in nature, support is there for the individual dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, for colleagues and for families. We would urge all employers to look at group risk protection benefits if they are serious about supporting the mental health of their workforce.”