To mark World Mental Health Day[i] on 10th October, an awareness day organised by the World Health Organization (WHO), Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing is encouraging employers to get behind this year’s campaign message and take “40 seconds of action” to show support for people with mental health issues.

The theme this year is suicide prevention. According to WHO, every 40 seconds someone around the world loses their life to suicide.  WHO is calling for “40 seconds of action”, to raise awareness of the scale of suicide around the world and the role that everyone, including employers, can play to help prevent it.

One suggestion for employers is to take 40 seconds to create a positive message of support to employees about the resources available in the workplace or in the local community to support mental wellbeing.

Kim Horsfall, Senior Consultant at Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing says,

“Employers have an important part to play in  the conversation around mental health.  Rising numbers of people are suffering from stress, depression and anxiety, which can escalate if not addressed and lead people to consider suicide.

“We all spend a large part of our lives at work and employers are increasingly recognising they have a role to play in offering better support around mental health. But there is much more that can be done, such as encouraging more openness to help break the stigma that still exists around mental illness in the workplace.”

A 2017 report from Deloitte[ii] on workplace mental health and wellbeing highlighted that in any one year, one in six workers is likely to be suffering from a mental health condition. With over 31 million people in work in the UK, this is equivalent to over five million workers who could be suffering from a mental health condition each year.

However, another survey this year by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England and Bauer Media UK[iii], found that only one-third of workers felt confident talking to colleagues about common mental health struggles such as stress and depression.

Kim Horsfall adds,

“We urge employers on World Mental Health Day to spend 40 seconds doing something such as encouraging all employees to ask a colleague how they are feeling that day. A simple action like this could have a wide reaching and positive impact on employees and spark further conversations around mental health. 

“Employers could also consider other measures to support mental wellbeing, such as access to counselling services, mental health first aiders and employee assistance programmes (EAPs), as part of their wider health and wellbeing strategy.

“There are also tools available that can support employees every day.  Apps such as our recently launched and NHS-approved Havensrock Thrive offer a cost-effective solution for employers who want to offer staff a practical, discrete app to monitor their mental health daily.

“This app empowers employees to take responsibility for their own mental health and gives them access to tailored support and the ability to speak to a dedicated mental health nurser  if needed. This is one way employers can ensure help is available every day of the year 24/7 and employees have access to support at a time they may need it most.”

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