The rate of suicides in Britain has risen sharply in recent years, with men accounting for three-quarters of the number of people who took their own lives last year. There are some notably high-risk groups, in young people aged 10-24 years, with the overall rate for that age group reaching a 19 year high and the rate for young females reaching an all-time high. As a parent of three young children, this is alarming, and for the workplace it surely places renewed emphasis on the importance of healthy work practices as we look to prepare and attract a future workforce.
I agree with the Mental Health Foundation’s view that prevention should happen long before people end up in crisis, and the workplace is a key part of this, along with schools, community groups and social service provision. They also remind us as part of their campaign that we can all, individually, help to reduce suicide rates and prevent suicides, by taking the time to have a conversation with those around us.
Today we are holding a ‘Tea & Talk’ at our Windsor and London offices, not only will we be raising money for the Mental Health Foundation, we will also be strengthening the bonds we have as a team, reminding our people that they are surrounded by colleagues who care about them. I’d encourage you to take a few minutes today and make a connection with someone you are worried about and let them know you are there and willing to listen, whether that is at home or work.
Friendships are also a crucial element in protecting our mental health and are among the most valuable relationships we have. We may talk to friends in confidence about things we wouldn’t normally discuss with our family. Friends keep us grounded and can help us get things in perspective. Putting effort into maintaining friendships and making new friends gives us the foundations to cope with problems that life throws at us. I’m honoured to count my work colleagues as friends and will be focused on strengthening these relationships this week.