Ensure workplace mental health support is communicated clearly

As World Suicide Prevention Day approaches, GRiD reminds employers that it is imperative to communicate support for mental health clearly and regularly, as employees need to be reminded that expert help is available should they need it.

that expert help is available should they need it.

It’s crucial that communication includes alerting employees to the availability of support and how to access it confidentially and independently, outside of office hours.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “Even the most comprehensive of employer support programmes for mental health issues will not save a life if it is not communicated regularly so staff know how to access it in their darkest hour.”

Types of employee support

While some employers may have specific suicide-prevention schemes in place or provide other bespoke support, most employers who offer group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness) are likely to find that they have a range of support included as standard.

This includes a wide and varied approach for the individual and the business, as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are usually embedded into the benefits, as is other mental health support, including early intervention, fast access to talking therapies, signposting to mental health first aid training, ongoing regular support and contact.

While suicide prevention may not be the primary reason for the purchase of employee benefits, the products and services have evolved to provide vital support for those employees who are suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. Employers have a duty to ensure they promote this aspect of their benefits packages so employees can access the support that’s been designed for them.

Sadly, the group risk industry knows just how serious an issue suicide is: data from GRiD’s Claims Survey 2023 shows that under Group Life Assurance policies, insurers paid 436 claims for suicide in 2022. While the financial support payable after a suicide is a help for the loved one’s dependants, employers have many powerful tools at their fingertips to help prevent these tragedies in the first place.

Katharine Moxham concluded: “I’m proud to represent an industry that offers such wide-ranging support to those struggling with their mental health. However, these measures have a limited chance of success if employees are not clear about what is available and how to access that support when they most need it.

“This World Suicide Prevention Day, where the theme is “creating hope through action”, we would encourage employers act by taking the time to review their communications around mental health support, as it could genuinely save an employee’s life and help put them back on the road to recovery. Suicide is never an inevitability.”