London’s Southbank was last month home to The Last Photo, a powerful outdoor gallery of smiling photographs taken in the last days of 50 people’s lives who died by suicide.
The images form part of a national campaign by CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) aimed at challenging the stigma and stereotypes surrounding suicide. The campaign hopes to raise awareness and help people start talking about an issue that sees 125 die by suicide every week in the UK.
It can be hard – sometimes impossible – to notice that somebody is having suicidal thoughts. As the campaign seeks to reinforce: ‘suicidal doesn’t always look suicidal’.
We talked to the counselling team at The Employee Resilience Company (TERC) to find out more. TERC is BHSF’s dedicated, specialist mental health team of counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health educators.
“Symptoms of severe depression manifest differently in each of us and this is especially true amongst men, which may explain why signs are often missed by loved ones and physicians. Cultural expectations can also play a role in why men fail to seek help when they are feeling hopeless or suicidal.”
Why are males more at risk?
- Traditional male gender roles discourage emotional expression. Men are told they need to be tough and that they should not need to ask for help. Such rigid gender norms may make it difficult for men to reach out and ask for support when they need it.
- Depression may be underdiagnosed in men. Men often do not disclose feelings of depression to their doctors. When they do, it is often described in terms of having problems at work or in relationships. Men also tend to describe their feelings as “stress” rather than sadness or hopelessness.
- Men are less likely to seek help for emotional problems. Depression is often diagnosed less frequently in men because of the tendency to deny illness, self-monitor symptoms, and self-treat.
- Men may be more likely to self-treat symptoms of depression with alcohol and other substances.
Cost of living crisis
Thematic analysis of calls currently coming into our services indicates that personal debt is a very present risk factor. We have seen an increase in male suicidal ideations which clients have relayed is linked to increasing financial loss and perceived inability to provide for their families.
Mental health is not merely the absence of mental disorders or symptoms but also a resource supporting overall well-being and productivity. The number of clients contacting our service for support is at a record high and they can access the immediate tailored support they require with no wait times. This is instrumental as according to the Centre for Mental Health’s 2021 report, the predicted levels of demand for mental health services are two to three times that of current NHS capacity and this will continue for up to five years.
Shining a light on available counselling services to help break the silence and encourage those who may be struggling to overcome mental health issues – no matter how they may appear to the outside world – is crucial.
"A personal crisis is often a unique – and increasingly complex – mix of factors."
Quality mental health support is also key explains our colleagues at TERC:
“A personal crisis is often a unique – and increasingly complex – mix of factors. It may be borne out of a particular trauma, but could be compounded by individual circumstances, such as debt worries or caring responsibilities. This is why it is critical that the support offered needs to be just as personalised and rounded. It is about connecting people to a 360-degree package of emotional, financial, and legal support, so that no matter the complexity of a case, the BHSF team will be by an employee’s side until a resolution is reached.”
For further information on the clinically-accredited mental health support that BHSF can offer to help kick start positive conversations, visit www.bhsf.co.uk/workplace-wellbeing/