Unum is urging employers to ensure they have adequate mental health support, in a bid to help prevent suicides.
Its comments come ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, which looks at the steps that can be taken to reduce the number of people taking their own lives.
Unum says that effective mental health support is more important than ever, given the widespread implications that Covid-19 has and is continuing to have on people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Concerns about finances, the furlough scheme ending, or possible redundancy are all drivers that could cause employees additional anxiety, stress, and worry. Unum says effective measures put in place can help reduce and mitigate these problems.
Unum says that the UK is not always well-equipped to deal with death from any cause. Although over decades mortality rates have decreased, death remains a topic many understandably find hard to discuss.
Figures show that in 2020, there were 4,902 suicides in England. These are people likely to be in employment – making this an issue that sadly many employers and employees may have to deal with alongside friends and family.
Unum points out that suicide can have a profound effect on a business and their colleagues. An appropriate and empathetic response from an organisation, both in the early days and over the long term, will help everyone cope with the loss and ensures the business understands how to manage one of the most difficult situations they will ever face.
It adds that having a crisis management action plan can be effective particularly when it comes to prevention but also supporting employees who may have been affected by this issue.It says putting the right support in place can help employees through the grieving process, and help prevent suicides happening in the future.
Unum says the following steps are important for employers to implement:
- Ensure employees have fast, direct, and easy access to mental health support.
- Extend mental health training for line managers – they are in the best position to spot early signs of distress and support employees who are struggling.
- Create a committee of employees from across the business who will develop guidelines and roll them out to the organisation.
- Ensure senior leaders understand what this plan is and what will be required for them
- Discover the support available from national and regional charities who have expertise in particular areas relating to mental health or bereavement.
- Draft communication plans – think about how best to sensitively communicate to employees, stakeholders and beyond to customers and the wider community.
- Consider how to manage social media. It’s important that organisations are aware of what is being discussed and address any rumours or unsafe messages.