The workplace is a critical area to address mental health and suicide prevention. Over two-thirds of the American population participates in the workforce. It is where we spend much of our days, oftentimes spending more time at work than with family and friends. This means that when workers are struggling with their mental health and/or thoughts of suicide, it can affect employees and their place of work.
Fortunately, we know that as we train our employees in the necessary skills to support positive mental health and connect them to available resources, we will create a workplace culture that values mental health and addresses it openly. In turn, this can build trust and loyalty within a workplace. Supporting employee mental health just makes good business sense.
The Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition believes that engaging workplaces in mental health initiatives across the state is a key component to reducing suicides in our Utah workforce. The workplace is a critical place for changing how our state addresses mental health, and we recognize that employers are quickly becoming leaders in this area. We must all come together to truly change the culture around mental health in Utah, and recognize that reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
In October 2020, the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition collaborated with the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce to publish a toolkit for employers in Utah to strengthen the mental health supports in their workplaces. This toolkit is called “Suicide Prevention in the Workforce: An Employer Toolkit”, and can be found at liveonutah.org/workplace/ along with various other resources to support employers in suicide prevention efforts. This toolkit includes important components such as how to 1) change workplace culture, 2) identify those at risk and link them to existing resources, and 3) dealing with crises or loss in the workplace.
Workplace mental health is a crucial part of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention, outlined in the Utah Suicide Prevention State Plan, which can empower employers and save lives.
Allison Foust, MHA, CHES
Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition Chair