Mental healthcare providers are reporting tremendous increases in employees seeking care and support; and surveys suggest that many feel depressed, anxious, and/or burned out but are afraid, unable, or unwilling to get help.
The good news is that many companies have started introducing a variety of programs to improve employee mental health – everything from free counseling to gamification. However, it is important to realize that there are some people with serious issues that may contribute to suicidal thoughts and actions. Make sure your emergency action plans are updated and enable quick response to such a concern. Some key steps include:
- Treat suicide risk as a potential safety threat for others – not just the employee.
- Follow your gut. Watch for warning signs of self-harm, including increased alcohol use, lack of motivation, poor communication and/or withdrawal, poor hygiene, and/or increased aggression or agitation. If you have strong reason for concern, it’s okay to ask the person if they are contemplating suicide.
- Don’t just send the employee home. Get involved and work with the person to get the care they need. Don’t just ‘hope for the best.’
- Call for help if the employee appears ready to take immediate action.
- Don’t drive the employee to the hospital in your own car.
- Follow up. Check in over time to see how the person is doing and if they need additional help or support.