Editorial 10 Sept 2020

10th September marks World Suicide Prevention Day. The WHO reports that close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Today offers an important opportunity to raise awareness of this significant global topic which is often uncomfortable to talk about, but cannot be overlooked.

In this week’s issue we cover stories of global leaders who are making mental health a priority across their organisations and the uncomfortable subjects we often struggle to address in workplaces—amongst them, suicide.

In a profile interview, Dr Richard Heron, VP Health and Chief Medical Officer for BP shares the ways in which his company’s extensive mental health programme is supporting a global workforce. This includes initiatives such as inclusive webinars where the 10k person staff can share challenges openly with senior leadership and providing grief and bereavement support to employees who’ve lost a loved one. Dr. Heron will be presenting more about BP’s mental health strategy at our UK digital conference, MAD World Summit on 8th Oct 2020.

2020 has been a year where an increased number of staff have been facing bereavement of loved ones as a result of COVID-19. Claire Farrow invited a number of senior business leaders from companies like BAE Systems, KPMG and Unilever (hosted by Louise Aston of Business in the Community) to share an open and honest discussion about this often difficult subject which touches every workplace and about effective solutions to support staff.

Guru Gowrappan, CEO of global media giant Verizon Media, is another progressive leader who’s not shying away from addressing mental health. This story profiles how under his leadership, Verizon has helped raise awareness about mental health both internally, through supporting its own staff, and externally through its content and charitable donations. Gowrappan will be sharing more on this subject as a speaker at Make a Difference (digital) Summit US in association with Mind Share Partners on 15th October 2020.

Raising awareness about mental health and suicide has become a top priority across the male-dominated construction sector worldwide. Cal Beyer, VP of Workforce Risk and Worker Wellbeing for CSDZ explains how the US construction industry is increasingly incorporating mental health and suicide prevention into safety and health culture, programmes and practices as we’re seeing rates of suicide increasing amongst men globally year on year.

In a very personal story, Sheila Hamilton shares about the suicide of her husband and how through her profound grief and vulnerability she’s discovered gratitude and inner strength. She emphasises how more employees should be trained in identifying people with alarming mental health symptoms who may be suicidal and importantly on how best to offer help. We’re proud to welcome Sheila Hamilton as one of our hosts for Make a Difference (digital) Summit US in association with Mind Share Partners on 15th October.

Finally, Andrea Woodside helps to raise awareness about another often-taboo topic in the workplace: self-harm or self-injury. She dispels common myths about self-harm and offers tips and resources on how employers, and colleagues, can help support someone whom they’re concerned may be at risk.

We hope you find this week’s issue enjoyable and valuable!

Well wishes,

Heather Kelly

Online Editor, Make a Difference News


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