We Need to Talk About Mental Health

The conversation around mental health is changing drastically. Topics that used to be taboo are starting to be approached much more openly, with people and organisations around the world making active efforts to remove the stigma on mental health. For example, celebrities from Ellen DeGeneres to Demi Lovato have spoken candidly to the media about their own struggles; and research conducted by mental health charity Mind has shown that newspaper coverage of mental health topics is starting to shift to a more positive, rather than stigmatising, outlook.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done on mental health awareness and suicide prevention – data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that around 90% of suicide deaths in Europe can be attributed to ill mental health. According to Anna Jones, Fundraising Director at the suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), the same frankness with which mental health issues are now being approached in the media should be applied to conversations about suicide.  “The media has a huge role to play when it comes to preventing suicide,” Anna told us in an exclusive interview.

“CALM works with TV channels like Dave, as well as newspapers, broadsheets, magazines and many other big brands to amplify our message around the world.”

CALM’s approach is often focused on male suicide, which is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. It is also far more prevalent in men than in women, although women tend to have higher rates of depression diagnoses – in 2017, 75% of recorded suicides in Great Britain were male and 25% were female.

“The way CALM approaches preventing male suicide and changing the stigma that is often attached to men and mental health is partly through campaigning, like raising awareness, and we also try to challenge behaviours and change the way people think about men and mental health. The fact that men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women shows that we are doing something differently, or not well enough, for men in our society.

“We also tackle this issue through our helpline and our webchat services. We take calls from anybody who is concerned about themselves or another person, as well as providing pragmatic advice signposting both men and women to a place where they can get further support.”

Having access to support and professional treatment is paramount to suicide prevention and to improve the lives of people living with mental health issues. In 2018, WHO reported that around 450 million people around the world currently suffer from mental health conditions, among which only one third seeks treatment, putting mental health among the leading causes of ill health and disability.

Some forms of mental health issues can deeply affect a person’s life and work, and, according to Anna, supporting healthy practices in the workplace is another big way to help. It is vital for organisations to actively encourage employees to take care of their mental health as well as their physical health. “Some of the best examples we’ve seen of companies engaging with well-being and supporting mental health is when it comes from the top, when CEOs, directors and heads of department share their own experiences and foster that culture where it’s okay to talk about it.

“Any company looking to support the well-being and mental health of their staff should probably look at it holistically – rather than having a week of seminars once a year, think about everyday changes that you can make to support the well-being of your staff.”

If you want to learn how to create a workplace culture that encourages positive mental health attitudes, taking a specialised business course is a good place to start. Take a look at LSBF’s course portfolio to find the best fit for you.

Watch the full interview below:


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