Suicide Prevention - Removing Stigma Of Mental Health

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Today, 10th September, 2020 is World Suicide Prevention Day.

That 'S' word is hard to write. There's such a stigma to it, isn't there? Even with increasingly widespread promotion of mental health.

It doesn't matter whether you're a leader, manager, parent, student, teacher, actor, musician, sports personality or retired. We all need support at some time and care for others, don't we? So, this blog is for YOU!

Scroll, view content that resonates with you, comment on social media and signpost to others you care about.

Content includes:

1. Video from Rugby League legend, Danny Sculthorpe

2. Opening video for Global Mental Health Roundtable hosted by Pedro Maciel

3. Red Laces poster

4. A 35-minute panel discussion

5. Details of a 16-day online course to help you to Feel Good For Good created by David McLean, clinical psychologist at DRM Group, featured in the panel discussion.

6. Selection of 1-minute mental health awareness videos

Suicide is REAL.

EVERY week in the UK, more than two people take their own lives in the construction sector and at least one person is lost within agriculture. This was before the unprecedented impacts of the global pandemic on lives and livelihoods.

I've been in some very dark places and want to help others where I can. So, mental health has been a prominent theme in Red Laces content since it was established six months ago.

This Summer, I created and delivered a mental health awareness social media campaign. I personally invited 30 people from across UK, USA, Canada, France, Switzerland, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia and New Zealand to contribute a 1-minute selfie video. Authentic and relatable content to share personal experiences and tips. They included TEDx speakers, an American actor friend, podcast hosts, a CEO, the IOSH President and my mother-in-law.

1. Danny Sculthorpe

Danny "Scully" Sculthorpe left the fields of his professional rugby playing career behind after being struck by a horrific injury which led to a catalogue of physical and mental challenges. He is now a public speaker, sharing his personal story to inspire individuals, teams and businesses to embrace positive mental health. He played for Widnes Vikings, Rochdale Hornets, Wigan Warriors, Castleford Tigers, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Huddersfield Giants.

Just before lockdown, I was fortunate to watch two of Danny's highly-emotive presentations on behalf of and we've been friends since. The charity harnesses the power of sport to promote positive mental health among sportsmen and women, fans and wider communities. Ultimately to prevent suicide.

Over a weekend in Summer, I saw Twitter posts from Danny sharing the tragic news that he had lost people in his network to suicide. It highlighted that we cannot talk about mental health enough. I asked him to record a quick selfie video which I could share to my network. He kindly agreed to capture a few words whilst out on a walk with his family.

"It's the stigma that is the biggest killer!"

2. Global Mental Health Roundtable

In the Summer, I joined Pedro Maciel on his USA-based X-Factor of Safety podcast. He previously contributed to the Red Laces video campaign. He invited me to share a video message to open the Global Mental Health Roundtable which he hosted and streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

In this 2-minute video, I reference my LinkedIn poll which revealed that of 56 respondents, only 4% will approach their line manager if they have mental health issues. The vast majority will confide in friends and/or family.

It's a tiny sample, though poses a few questions:

Board Members and HR Directors

  1. How might this influence your approaches to mental health and wellbeing (including role of Mental Health First Aiders)?

  2. How much is this a reflection the culture of your organisation? How proactively do you create an environment of trust where people feel safe to open up?

  3. What impacts might this have for burnout amongst middle management, for instance?

  4. What might be the impacts to safety risk and accident causation from this? We've already seen the high suicide rate amongst the construction and agriculture sectors.

  5. How would you describe your strategic capability to create the environment for people to open up (on mental health and safety risks)?

Line managers

  1. What support do you need?

  2. What can you do more, less or differently?

  3. Do you have 1-1s with your team members?

You - parents, grandparents, children, students, friends...

  1. It's likely that your friends and/or family members will need your support at some point. They may not feel able to open up and ask for help. How will you act and respond?

  2. How can you signpost to sources of information and support?

3. Red Laces Poster

People have asked why mental health appears so prominently in Red Laces social media content. It's beyond my professional expertise and not part of my value proposition, per se. I help Boards, business owners and others to solve complex problems through creative, strategic and practical risk solutions.

So, what's the link?

I've reflected on this (I always encourage my mentees to reflect!).

It was during my interview with Dr. Jane Booth on her Coffee and Conversation podcast, this Summer, that the answer emerged. I had shared my approaches to business around a growth mindset, creativity, risk, adaptability, agility, leadership, culture, communication, collaboration, customer and care.

Then..."create an environment" came out.

That's it! The thread between mental health (a passion of mine - 'the heart') and risk in the broadest strategic and operational senses (my expertise - 'the head'). So, I created this poster to start bringing the two together.

My purpose is to create better environments - in the boardroom, the teams, the warehouse, the yard, the buildings. Environments where people can open up. Where we can start the conversation!

Ultimately, this links to the natural environment as well. It makes sense to me. Over 20 years ago, I started my career as an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) which had a very strong environmental element including air pollution and contaminated land. A strong emphasis on coaching and mentoring businesses across sectors, it also included food hygiene, health and safety, licensing and statutory nuisances. Activities which had direct impacts on the livelihoods of people - environments where they live, work and spend leisure time.

I've been chartered since 2003 and recently released Episode 1 of a 4-minute YouTube documentary Tales From an EHO.

4. Panel Discussion on Mental Health

"Great episode, interesting and relatable. It’s good to know we’re all in the same boat, although different scenarios but lots of experiencing up and down days at the moment. Gave some great advice, the ‘3 Ps’ great. Would recommend to anyone."

C.Downes via Red Laces Facebook page

In Episode 3 of the 4-part RebrandingSafety Panel mini-series, James MacPherson (RebrandingSafety) hosted a discussion with Christian Harris (DecontaminationCleaningUK), David McLean (DRM Group) and myself on experiences of life in the early phase of lockdown. David shared perspectives as a business owner and clinical psychologist.

RebrandingSafety is a podcast and YouTube 'down the pub' style of health and safety content.

A few salient points to emerge from the conversation:

1. How full is your 'stress bucket?'

2. Perception is reality.

3. Build momentum with small changes.

4. Thoughts become feelings...feelings become actions.

5. Recognise external pressures as such. We decide how to respond.

All four episodes of the mini-series are available on the RebrandingSafety podcast (iTunes and Spotify) and Youtube channel as well as Red Laces YouTube.

5. Feel Good For Good

Red Laces are affiliated with DRM Group for you to purchase their unique 16-day online course, developed by David McLean (clinical psychologist), which takes you on a journey to Feel Good For Good

6. Mental Health Awareness Videos

Here is a selection of five videos taken from the campaign.

1. Jordan Ray Fox, actor, Austin, Texas

2. Dominique Perrissin-Fabert, Health and Safety Manager, Royal Opera House, France

3. Ugochi Obediegwu, The Safety Chic, Nigeria

4. Tom Oxley, TEDx Speaker, UK

5. Georgie Blundell, CEO, Generation Health, Australia

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

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Jonathan Dempsey BSc.(Hons) MBA PgDip Dip2.OSH CMCIEH CEnvH CMIOSH MCMI FIIRSM

Owner and Founding Director

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