CONTENT WARNING: This article deals with suicide and mental health. If you would like to talk to someone about mental health, you can call Headspace on 1800 650 890. If you are contemplating suicide or having suicidal thoughts, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA ranked the top ten occupations at risk of suicide. The list makes disturbing and sometimes surprising reading:
[Ratings count the number of suicides per 100,000 people]
- Farmworkers, fishermen, lumberjacks, other employees in forestry or agriculture (85)
- Carpenters, miners, electricians, construction trades (53)
- Mechanics and those who do installation, maintenance, repair (48)
- Factory and production workers (35)
- Architects, engineers (32)
- Police, firefighters, corrections workers, others in protective services (31)
- Artists, designers, entertainers, athletes, media (24)
- Computer programmers, mathematicians, statisticians (23)
- Transportation workers (22)
- Corporate executives and managers, advertising and public relations (20)
While the list is by no means comprehensive (the sampling covers only 17 states in America, and features no data at all from Australia), the presence of architects and engineers at number five highlights the pressures and risks of what are undeniably high-pressure industries.
“Knowing suicide rates by occupation provides employers and other prevention professionals with an opportunity to focus on suicide-prevention programs and messages,” explains Wendy McIntosh, one of the authors of the study.
So why do architects and engineers place rate as such high risks? Possible explanations may include the high standards that architects and engineers are commonly said to set for themselves and the increased likelihood of poor work-life balance. The big question, however, is what can be done to mitigate and even remove the risks. For those suffering from or at risk of depression, a few simple but nonetheless essential methods can be employed to ease matters.
- Stay active. This can be as simple as morning stretches, going for a walk or riding your bike to work.
- Eat well. Fruit, vegetables and grains are great for our overall health.
- Take breaks to clear your mind. Whether it’s a walk around the block or a lunch break outside, stepping away from your desk for a few minutes can make a world of difference to your mindset.
- Connect with others. Talk to your friends, family and colleagues. Let them know how you are doing and check in with how they are doing too.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Somewhere between seven and nine hours is ideal.
- Set goals, stay motivated and keep learning new things!
At Hames Sharley, we believe that the mental health and wellbeing of all our employees is key to organisational success and sustainability. As such, we uphold a company Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy. All employees have a responsibility to:
- take care of their own mental health and wellbeing, including physical health; and
- take care that their actions do not affect the health and safety of others in the workplace.
Associates, Senior Associates, Associate Directors and Directors are responsible for:
- ensuring all workers are made aware of this policy;
- actively supporting and contributing to the implementation of this policy, including its goals; and
- managing the implementation and review of this policy.
The purpose of this policy is to build and maintain a workplace environment and culture that supports mental health and wellbeing, prevents discrimination and reduces stigma around depression and anxiety in the workplace.
Hames Sharley also has two Mental Health First Aiders, who can be accessed through HR, and we encourage open conversations through which employees can actively contribute and provide feedback to this policy.
“Hames Sharley takes mental health very seriously and we want all our employees to know that there are resources and support available,” says Hames Sharley’s National HR Coordinator, Anne-Marie Philpot.
Other resources include posters and literature from Beyond Blue and LifeLine located in each studio.
This R U OK? Day, each Hames Sharley studio will also host a morning tea, at which studio members are encouraged to check in with one another and stimulate discussions about mental-health issues in the wider community.