Since I started the company over a decade ago I have driven Employees Matter to engage and support staff in all aspects of work and life. The mental health agenda has become increasingly important for us and many companies are seeking to explore new territories in this area.
With this in mind EM planned a webinar to mark World Suicide Prevention Day. We discovered that most of the people who tuned in had never come across an entire workplace session dedicated to talking about suicide. I sincerely applaud those companies that signed up to the webinar, enabling their staff to take part. The aim was clear: Yes it is a very difficult subject to talk about and many of us on the call had been affected by suicide – but the more we talk about it, the better. We want to help eradicate the stigma.
So, when I received the following comment straight after the webinar, I knew there was still so much work to do in this area: ‘I just told a colleague that I had attended the call, after which she didn’t know how fast she could remove herself from the conversation. I guess there is still a long way to go to remove the stigma on mental health in the UK. (It’s very different fortunately in my home country, the Netherlands, where people are direct in expressing their thoughts and feelings.) But anyway, I hope I’m now better equipped to speak with my friends, which was the reason I wanted to attend the webinar.’
I want to thank the inspiring panellists Clare Francis, Sylvia Bruce, David Beeney and James Woodcock for sharing such personal stories and offering advice in response to the many questions that were sent in before and during the live session.
The main themes covered were that there are a lot of caring people out there who want to help and support their friends and colleagues but don’t know how. We were told that just asking how someone is goes a long way, further than you might ever expect. We were taught to be conscious of little signs around us where people might be acting slightly differently and that we must not be afraid to say to someone ‘you look tired’ or ‘isn’t the workload full on at the moment?’ This might be the trigger they need to open up. Another clear message was that if you are struggling and find it hard to speak to someone, know that there are always people to talk to, including the Samaritans who can give you advice on who to speak to at work.
To conclude, I received the following feedback from someone within 5 minutes of the webinar ending, ‘Please pass on my sincere thanks to the speakers today. It’s heart wrenching to hear their stories and I’m full of admiration that they’re sharing their stories with us. I’ve never known the depths of despair that sufferers endure. Today is a real eye opener for me. I am humbled.’
I am full of pride that these people took part in the webinar and came away with so many encouraging thoughts. Our aim is to reach even more. Thank you for your constant support.
Please contact Employees Matter to hear a recording of the webinar.
You can call Samaritans for free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch.
Zoe Sinclair, Employees Matter