Suicide prevention in the workplace

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– People often spend a large portion of their lives at work, which is one reason HR experts say mental health education in the workplace is key.

“We spend so much time at work,” said Regional HR Director for Ozarks YMCA Robin Horton. “We work so closely hand and hand with our coworkers, and sometimes we notice things that others may not.”

Horton is a part of the Springfield Area Human Resources Association.

“If we notice something and we’re able to say something and get people to help we can decrease the number of suicides,” said Horton. “A lot of people exhibit some of those symptoms at work.”

Horton’s organization is working to help local businesses do just that.

“We want them to not only be educated and grow in awareness but we want them to have something valuable to take with them and put into action,” said Horton.

Horton says this can be done by creating a work environment that fosters communication and a sense of belonging.

“At my previous workplace, it was very hard to talk about it and to tell my boss that I had that,” said Executive Director of NAMI Southwest Missouri Stephanie Appleby. “Because I thought now they are going to see me as I don’t have any strengths or that I’m crazy.”

Appleby says it’s important for companies to provide professional resources on-site for their employees.

“When you feel like you have that in place individuals are going to feel more like they can come and discuss that and it’s not just going to become office gossip and go nowhere,” said Appleby.

She says NAMI offers free training for staff.

Which includes ways to check-in with your co-workers.

“You approach it the same way you would if it was a physical illness,” said Appleby. “If you notice something is wrong it’s okay to ask, the more afraid we are to ask the more we put that stigma in place still again.” 

Appleby says help often begins from a conversation.

For more information on NAMI’s training click here.

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