With World Suicide Prevention Day taking place on 10 September, it is crucial that employers and managers reflect on how they are supporting employee wellbeing and mental health.
Suicide is a hugely complex area, and employers will be better placed to support their staff if they have a greater understanding of the issue, including supportive ways in which they might be able to reduce the risk of their employees being affected.
No one would expect an individual line manager to have the skills or expertise to manage an employee who is struggling with their mental health, and in such instances, professional help should be sought immediately.
It is for this reason that the International Organization for Standardization has published a new standard, ISO 45003. The new standard aims to provide better support around the issue of psychological health and safety in the workplace. It includes rules around the management of psychological risk and how to incorporate it into a health, safety and wellbeing program.
The Office for National Statistics has reported that in 2020, there were 5,224 suicides registered in England and Wales.1 And according to the UK Labour Force Survey, the number of working days lost to mental ill-health in the UK for 2019/2020 (pre-pandemic) increased from 12.8 to 17.9 million days.2
Therefore, it is clear that the new ISO 45003 standard is going to be both timely and relevant. According to the ISO, the standard is: “to prevent work-related psychological injury and ill health and to actively promote wellbeing within an occupational health and safety management system.”
The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), believes workplaces are important areas for suicide prevention – as work can provide a sense of purpose and belonging, whilst also being a place to make social connections.
Stuart Beaumont, Director at Spectra said:
“We welcome the publication of the new ISO 45003 standard. It has the potential to be a major game-changer regarding how businesses approach workplace mental health by providing a framework for managing psychosocial risk within a wellbeing strategy, an approach that focuses not solely on the person but also the design of the work and the work environment.”
Accessing support for your employees
The Samaritans have a range of support services available to support people in the workplace including resources and training:
Organisations interested in finding out more about ISO 45003 should contact Spectra for an overview of the standard.
About World Suicide Prevention Day
The purpose of the day is, very simply, to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. In previous years some 300 activities in approximately 70 countries have taken place, including educational and commemorative events, press briefings and conferences, as well as coverage on social media.