Rates of female suicide in the UK are at their highest in a decade, up 3.8 per cent on last year, nonetheless, men are three times more likely to commit suicide.
Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day, Group Risk Development (GRiD), the industry body for group risk, believes that whilst the taboos around mental health are slowly subsiding, suicide is a topic that is rarely aired in the workplace. However, help and support for employers and their workforce is accessible through group risk products such as employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness.
This is the time employers ensure they communicate the mental wellbeing support available via group risk products to all employees, says GRiD spokesperson Katharine Moxham. In addition, she suggests that HR teams should ensure that they too know how to access the support available from their group risk provider.
“Whilst preventing suicide may not be a primary driver for purchasing group risk products, the added-value services offered by insurers can be a great support for mental health and in the prevention of suicide and attempted suicide. And no matter what conclusions are drawn from the statistics, support must reach right across the workforce to help anyone who needs it,” Moxham said.
Support for employees
Worries about finances, relationships and feeling unable to cope can be key triggers affecting mental health, and group risk support services can really make a difference. For example:
- Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are often attached to group risk products and offer employees access to professional counselling and practical advice and support, including issues such as debt management, relationship problems or health matters.
- Group income protection providers often provide fast-track access to talking therapies and there will also be vocational rehabilitation support through an experienced case manager which can give an extra layer of help.
- Products that provide a level of financial support and that relieve money worries during times of long-term illness also provide rehabilitation support and help employees get back to health, reducing their time away from work and the associated impact on a business.
- Even if an organisation limits who is covered by group risk products – for example, to a particular level of management – it is often the case that all employees can access the support services, which can improve wellbeing across the entire organisation.
Support for employers
Group risk products can also provide help and support to line managers, HR and business owners. Group risk providers may also offer training for employers and line managers to help spot the early signs of mental health issues amongst staff and the associated EAP can often provide access to a post-suicide trauma team, which can include on-site counselling and support for bereaved colleagues.
“Group risk providers have put a great deal of thought into providing access to a wide range of supportive services which complement their group risk offering and which they believe will help to support people through difficult or challenging times in their lives,” Moxham added. “Our message to employers is – make use of them.”