Jacobs raises awareness with UK Government of need for mental health checks

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are currently more than 700,000 suicides a year worldwide, and for each suicide there are more than 20 suicide attempts. Every suicide is a tragedy that profoundly affects families, friends, colleagues and communities.

Although mental health remains one of the leading causes of death and disability across the world, too often in society we fail to address it, talk about it or invest in preventing it.

Attention on prevention

This Suicide Prevention Week focuses on encouraging people to talk about mental health and suicide awareness and prevention. It’s an opportunity and reminder for people to hit pause for a moment and come together to check-in on their mental health.

“Most of us would not hesitate to go to the doctor for regular tests and check-ups if we had concerns about our physical health,” says Jacobs Global Vice President of Health, Safety and Environment Paul Hendry. “But when was the last time you had a mental health check-up? We often only seek help with our mental health when we’re already in crisis.”

In 2020, Jacobs developed a free mental health check-in tool called One Million Lives to help enhance users’ understanding of their current state of mind and provide proactive strategies for personal mental health development. Available for free, the tool is accessible to everyone — no matter where they live, who they are or the organisation for which they work.

“We recognised that the lives of our employees’ family and friends can impact the day-to-day lives of our employees, so we wanted this to be a free resource for all to use and share,” continues Paul. “Our goal with One Million Lives is to break down the barriers that hinder honest conversations about mental health and encourage an open culture of support. By completing a regular check-in, people will ideally be better equipped to assess early indicators of challenges, start positive and active conversations, get support much earlier, and develop appropriate coping mechanisms and resiliency.”

UK Government’s 5-year, cross-sector strategy

To raise awareness about prioritising mental health and resilience, this week U.K. Member of Parliament (MP) Liz Twist invited Jacobs to host a drop-in session for MPs, to learn more about resources – like the free One Million Lives mental health check-in tool and other online resources – and support that charity R;pple and organisation Make A Difference Media provide.

A passionate campaigner on suicide prevention, Liz Twist says, “Every suicide is a tragedy, and most often a complex one with no single cause. However, statistics do show that middle-aged men, particularly those in the construction sector, are some of the most at risk. It was therefore encouraging to see so many colleagues attend the parliamentary drop-in session I hosted this week with Jacobs and charity R;pple and Make A Difference (MAD) to raise awareness during Suicide Prevention Week and learn more about services available to those who are struggling.”

“It has also been good to see the issues within the construction sector being recognised within the new National Suicide Prevention Strategy,” she explains. “I am pleased to see more organisations focusing on the importance of positive mental health as a step to preventing suicide and I urge colleagues and constituents of mine to look at services such as the One Million Lives app and to check-in on your mental health.”

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