With the coronavirus pandemic causing heightened levels of anxiety, mental health is now more prevalent than ever. The number of callers to the charity SANE’s telephone helpline increased by 200 percent since the beginning of lockdown, indicating new levels of desperation. Unchecked mental health also impacts the wider economy, costing UK employers £45 billion each year, according to recent research by Deloitte.
Business Coaching Journal sat down with Ian Hurst of We Are Hummingbird to discuss the issues of mental health at work and the importance of mental health initiatives. According to Ian, for every pound invested in mental health at work, the employer gets back up to £8 in reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.
What drives suicidal thoughts and behaviours? How does it impact an organisation and what changes do we implement?
According to Ian, who is now a qualified Mental Health First Aider and educator, his journey began a few years ago. Working in the insurance business at the time, Ian struggled with anxiety and depression. “It got so bad'” admitted Ian, “that one day at a business trip I just broke down in tears and my colleagues didn’t know what to do with me.” It was a watershed moment for Ian. The following day he started going through his employer’s website in search of mental health resources. “I knew I needed to do something but the documentation available for employees on the website was all medical talk and scientific papers written by researchers.” It would appear there were no companies that would ‘speak to Ian’ at the time.
Ian Hurst, a co-founder of We are Hummingbird, said: “How many times have you felt helpless, witnessing friends or family suffering from debilitating mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression or addiction and not known how to help? Now more than ever, there is a need to be able to identify the signs of when someone is struggling and take simple steps to help them. The impact suicide has on families is heart-breaking, the latest figures from the Samaritans sadly show there are 6,507 suicides in the UK a year with the highest rate among men aged 45-49.”
To commemorate the World Suicide Prevention Day, We Are Hummingbird, in collaboration with Panic the Mother, have produced a 6-part series concerning all things mental health. Covering a wide range of topics from dealing with grief to parenting with mental health issues, the Youtube series is a deep dive into the world of self-discovery and self-mastery. Guided by qualified mental health first aider Ian, the series are informative and insightful and aim to offer a word of wisdom and encouragement for anyone.
“it’s important to realise that thoughts about suicide are very prevalent in society but not everyone who is thinking about suicide will carry through with that,” admitted Ian to BCJ. As a mental health first aider, Ian educates business managers on what signs to look out for in employees, how to ask the ‘right’ questions, and what to do when someone admits they are thinking of suicide.
Ian’s blunt and sobering statement is hard to ignore: “There are always ‘signs’. It takes weeks and months for the process of suicide continuum – planning of suicide – to complete. If we think ‘there were no signs’ it’s just because we chose to ignore them.”
According to Ian, those who are planning suicide “always hope for something to intervene” and it’s important to give the person permission to speak by asking simple and direct questions.
Watch the full interview with Ian Hurst:
- How to put mental health at the core of your business values
- How your business can benefit from investing in employees’ mental health
- Telltale signs when one thinks of committing suicide
- What is the suicide continuum
- How to create the network around the person with mental health issues
If you are in need of advice on mental health contact either of the following: