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Samaritans releases workplace support programmes for World Mental Health Day

Mental health support charity Samaritans has updated its range of Samaritans Training and Engagement Programmes (STEP) courses, in time for World Mental Health Day (10 October).

The support programmes were designed for workplaces, with the intention of training staff to better recognise people in crisis and provide the necessary support.

The series of one-day courses include a programme on managing suicidal conversations, educating participants on how to talk to people having suicidal thoughts.

Mental health support at work:

Understanding the spectrum of mental health support needs at work

The importance of providing mental health support for staff

Employee mental health support – how HR can make a real difference


Juliane Sterzl, senior vice president EMEA at CoachHub, said there's a financial upside to HR professionals focusing on mental health as well as a wellbeing one.

She said: “The estimated cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is $1 trillion per year in lost productivity, meaning that a lack of mental health support in the workplace not only impacts workplace culture and productivity, but also has a specific, measured, economic impact.

"HR leaders therefore not only need to focus on supporting employee wellbeing, but also on offering dedicated development programmes to managers and executives in understanding and accommodating mental health concerns. A tailored strategy to meet individual needs is the gold standard and employers who do this will be the ones employees want to work for – a win/win outcome.”

Samaritans also offer a course on having conversations with vulnerable people, helping employees recognise situations that can lead someone to feel vulnerable.

Another course tackles building resilience and wellbeing, with the aim of getting workers to prioritise self care and respond well to changes in their environment.

The funds raised from delivering the STEP courses will go towards funding Samaritans work in the future.

Rob Evans, senior HR consultant at WorkNest, highlighted the importance of giving line managers the necessary mental health support training. He said: "Line managers are on the frontline for monitoring and supporting employee wellbeing, so underinvesting in this area will be detrimental.

“If managers are equipped with the right knowledge and skills, they can spot the earliest signs of underlying mental health issues, open up better lines of communication with employees surrounding mental health, and learn the different types of support they can offer team members that need it.

Research from HR, payroll, and finance specialist MHR found 62% of employees thought their employer did not care about their mental wellbeing, while 55% of those surveyed felt pressure to hide their mental health concerns at work.

Jeanette Wheeler, chief HR officer at MHR, added: “The fact that employees feel pressured into hiding their mental health is concerning, and with some believing their employer doesn’t care about their mental wellbeing at all, shows a real division between employers and employees.

"To bridge this gap, employers need to form connections with employees beyond work and prove that their mental health comes first. Having these conversations is advantageous to everyone as will enable employees to get their concerns off their chests, perhaps find a solution, or simply start to feel in a better place after talking with another person.”