Critical incident support, low-mood monitoring, wellbeing drop-in days, all available to support mental health via group risk protection benefits

World Suicide Prevention Day 10 September

No one is immune from the effects of suicide – suicidal behavior is universal and knows no boundaries – and for every person that dies by suicide, many more make an attempt, and many more are impacted.

Employers can help

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. But a company knowing it needs to offer support, and knowing how to offer support, are two quite different things

Group risk protection benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness benefits) may be 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. But these products actually offer some of the most valuable support that’s available for mental health.

Support can include:

  • Critical Incident Support
  • Well being drop-in days
  • Employee Assistance Programmes
  • Face-to-face counselling
  • Free access to online guides
  • Bereavement counselling

Support for families and colleagues too

For every one person that dies by suicide, many more are impacted – it is estimated that for every suicide a further 135 people will experience intense grief or be otherwise affected.* So support via group risk protection benefits is also available for colleagues and families.

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.

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 savior for people dealing with the shock and emotional toll.

Prevention support

Likewise, because there are often no outward signs – even to those that are closest, it’s crucial that support isn’t only provided after an incident, but that everything is done to support those dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts to help prevent suicide in the first place.

This might include access to mental health first aid training for line managers, counselling, and interactive mood meters where employees can monitor their own mood levels and help can be signposted if needed.

Communicate

There are two elements that are equally important in terms of mental health support: offer it and communicate it. There is no point providing support if employees don’t know it exists. 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.

‘The theme of this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is Working Together. Suicide is preventable, but it takes a great deal of work by many people. When employers work together with their advisers and providers to implement and communicate the mental health support that comes with group risk protection benefits, they really do have the potential to prevent suicide.’