The London Ambulance Service announced last week* that daily suicide rates in the UK’s capital have increased by nearly 70% since 2019 and more than doubled compared to 5 years ago. This frightening trend saw figures surge from a daily average of 22 related call outs in 2019, to 37 a day in 2020.
November is set to be a tough month. There will be little opportunity to socialise outside of our households and many businesses and employees suffering hugely from the impact on the economy. Businesses must therefore consider the impact of this news on their employees and ensure their leaders are trained to monitor for early stages of mental health concerns and how to manage these.
Businesses need to be paying attention and learning quickly
These figures from the London Ambulance Service are very upsetting. It’s therefore important that we do everything we can to help each other through this difficult period both in our personal and business life. As a business psychologist I have seen first-hand how this pandemic has affected individual’s mental health and I urge businesses to monitor all their employee’s mental health over the next month. The most efficient and effective approach to support your staff is by training and developing your senior team so they are aware and empathetic with their teams.
People need the connectivity of the workplace
Businesses need to be paying attention and learning quickly about the impact working from home is having on their employee’s mental health. This is especially true for businesses that have already announced staff do not need to return to an office environment. Having worked with thousands of people since February and over the lockdown period, I am seeing a shift in attitudes as time has gone on with many people missing and wanting to return to the office. People need the connectivity of the workplace, it boosts morale, productivity and is a hub for creativity and innovation. If working from home is your long-term businesses plan, then you need to consider how to support staff wellbeing remotely.
Here are a few ways you can help and support your employees:
Companies need to be compassionate and even more communicative. There have been cases of employees of 20 years being made redundant via email and without warning. This kind of behaviour is heartless and completely sets a terrible precedence for your remaining staff. Businesses have a responsibility to psychologically contain their staff and treat them with respect and courtesy.
Offer them mental health support. A loss of purpose whilst restricted at home can been extremely tough for these employees. Work offers a huge respite from the anxieties of lockdown so don’t underestimate the impact it can have on staff wellbeing. With excess time, negative thoughts can spiral quickly and take hold, so try and offer support and keep them updated on the business.
Many employees are afraid to discuss personal mental health issues at work for the fear of repercussion such as a loss respect or responsibility. Companies need to shift their culture to focus on mental health as they do a physical health. This starts at the top! It has to be change in thought process instilled by the company leaders.
Investment in Leaders
Leaders need to be aware of potential health issues and what the warning signs are. Early signs could be people missing deadlines, being late to meetings or being less communicative. Our workshops on mental health training for leaders increases their knowledge of mental wellness amongst their teams and the confidence to approach and create a support plan for their teams.
For more content on how to support staff wellbeing, click here.
About the author:
Dannielle Haig is an international Business Psychologist and founder of DH Consulting who works with both business leaders and inspiring leaders to develop their leadership skills and reach their true potential. She is also an accomplished international public speaker who has hosted many events, inspiring audiences by sharing her expertise on mental strength and resilience in the workplace.
Work in Mind is a content platform designed to give a voice to thinkers, businesses, journalists and regulatory bodies in the field of healthy buildings.