Mental Well-Being & the Workplace: Embracing Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month

September is Suicide Awareness & Prevention Month and an ideal time to consider well-being in the workplace.
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According to the Harvard Business Review, over the past twenty years, suicide deaths in the United States have increased by 35% with the majority of suicide deaths occurring among working-age individuals. Also alarming, Colorado ranks seventh in the nation for deaths by suicide. Because most people spend the majority of their waking hours in the workplace, employers, managers and co-workers have a unique opportunity to help support and offer resources to people who may be at risk. 

September is Suicide Awareness & Prevention Month and an ideal time to consider well-being in the workplace. The benefits of supporting employee mental health are well documented, ranging from fewer sick days to increased productivity. With today’s slew of job openings, offering mentally healthy workplaces is becoming a vital employee retention tool.  Simply put, promoting well-being in the workplace and helping someone who may be in crisis is the right thing to do.

READ — Building a Company Culture of Care

What does it take to improve well-being in your place of business? While there are many useful resources to help measure and promote a more mentally healthy workplace, it all starts with a simple and authentic culture shift. Communicate your intention to staff and follow it up with real action. Here are a few tips to get started.

Tips to Promote Employee Well-Being 

Adopt a Growth Mindset & Emphasize Meaning

Finding purpose and “getting in the flow” with work boosts well-being. Talk to your employees about the importance of their work and how it contributes to overall company success. Learn what your employees like best about their jobs – and where they could use support or training. People want to succeed and typically thrive when given the opportunity and support to do so.  

Promote Employee Connection, Respect & Inclusivity

A supportive and inclusive work environment that fosters communication and a sense of belonging offers strong protective factors against suicide. Encourage team building, investing in regular events and opportunities to connect such as breakfast breaks, group outings or even by organizing team volunteer hours with nonprofits to give back to the community.   

Mental Health First Aid Class

Consider a company-wide Mental Health First Aid class, where employees will be taught tools to keep someone safe in the middle of a panic attack, suicidal ideation and more. Those who take the course learn a 5-step action plan encompassing the skills, resources and knowledge to help an individual, or perhaps a co-worker, in crisis. 

Quarterly Checks

Train managers to check in with staff to gently gauge stress levels and query how they are coping inside and outside of the office. Take note if something feels “off” or not quite right. Ask how you can support employees and let them know they are valued. Be prepared to offer mental health resources to help your team navigate the complicated process of being connected to care.  

Straight Talk with Respect and Care

If you are concerned that someone is in emotional pain, don’t beat around the bush, ask in a direct and caring way if they have considered suicide. Show empathy and compassion in your questioning and if the answer is yes, be prepared to help connect them to resources and above all else, express care and concern.  

Employee Mental Health Resources 

As Denver’s community mental health provider, WellPower (formerly known as Mental Health Center of Denver) offers counseling, clinical interventions, trainings and helpful resources to improve well-being and offer care in times of crisis. These include: 

Colorado Crisis Services

To talk to a mental health crisis counselor 24/7, call 844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255 or visit https://coloradocrisisservices.org. You don’t have to be suicidal to call or text. You can also call if you are concerned about a co-worker and want guidance on how to help. Colorado has several walk-in clinics specifically for people in crisis and you can find their address at the website.  

Access Line

To access services for yourself or your child, call (303) 504-7900. Staff will ask you questions over the phone to learn more about you or your child. They will ask about who you are, your finances and ask for some clinical information. We use this to determine if you or your child meet our requirements to access services with us. 

TherapyDirect

TherapyDirect is a new (and free) way to quickly connect with a mental health professional for up to three online therapy sessions each year. No fees, no medical insurance needed. Available to metro Denver residents 18 years and older, including those new to counseling. 

Well-Being Resources

WellPower has created a “Digital Front Door’” to help people help themselves and access our services earlier. Our website has links/info/tools to help improve your well-being, including a link to the free Science of Well-Being course, Mental Health First Aid, books and self-monitoring tools like myStrength.  

Working to enhance your workplace culture can deliver a big return to your business and the people who work for you. Set actionable goals, train managers and shift the work mindset to better promote well-being. Most of all, watch for potentially serious issues impacting staff and act quickly to show care, compassion and a willingness to support and help navigate connecting a person in crisis to care.

Carl Clark MdAs President & Chief Executive Officer of WellPower Dr. Clark leads the organization by “focusing on what people can do, not what they can’t do.” He has dedicated his career to improving the well-being of the Denver community and beyond through a focus on health promotion, well-being, resilience, and recovery across the lifespan.
 
Under the leadership of Dr. Clark, WellPower is powering the pursuit of well-being, delivering strengths-based, person-centered, culturally responsive services. In 2018, WellPower was named a finalist for a World Changing Idea Award from Fast Company Magazine and the same year won the Excellence in Behavioral Healthcare Management Award from the National Council for Behavioral Health. In 2021, WellPower was named a National Top Workplace and a Top Employer in Healthcare by DiversityJobs.com and has been a Denver Post Top Workplace for nine years running.
Categories: Healthcare & Wellness, Human Resources