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By Jess Parker, Suicide Prevention Programme Manager

With Christmas and New Year fast approaching, it’s important to check in with those around us, especially our colleagues, many of whom will continue to work under considerable pressure on the front line over the festive period. 

The increased pressure and loneliness of this time of year can be significant triggers for those struggling with their mental health and experiencing suicidal ideation. And this applies to staff just as much as the people they care for. A 2015 survey by Mind* showed that more than a third (36 per cent) of people with mental health problems have self-harmed to cope with the pressure of Christmas. Of the of 1,100 people surveyed, more than half (52 per cent) considered harming themselves at Christmas, while nearly half (45 per cent) considered taking their own life.

Spot the risks

Understanding who might be at risk can help us have conversations where they are needed and could save someone’s life. When speaking to colleagues consider:

  • Are they spending Christmas alone?
  • Are they having financial worries?
  • Are they having relationship difficulties, or spending Christmas away from children?
  • Have they witnessed a death or experienced trauma at work?
  • Have they been bereaved?
  • Are going through HR processes at work, or in a longer term sickness absence?

Our support and crisis lines are open as normal throughout the Christmas and New Year period

The staff support line is open every day, 8am – 8pm including all bank holidays – call 0808 196 3833 or chat online.

The Grief and Loss ( Service is open 8am to 8pm 365 days a year, including all the bank holidays over the festive period.  This service not only supports people who are bereaved, but offers colleagues support around any loss in life. 

The West Yorkshire Suicide Bereavement Service supports anyone affected by suicide, including colleagues who may be bereaved by the death of a patient/ service user.

The West Yorkshire Suicide Prevention website has detailed information about local crisis and suicide prevention services.  It has links to training providers and lots of additional resources. 

The Staff Check-In campaign and website gives tips and tools about how to spot risk, and how to have conversations about wellbeing and suicide at work.  It also gives details of suicide prevention training that could help save a life.

Finally, the Staff Mental Health Hub is for anyone who works in any health and social care organisation in West Yorkshire.  You can use the self-referral option into the psychological assessment and therapy service, or seek advice if you are concerned about a colleague.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, our crisis lines are open 24 hours a day, every day:

  • Leeds: 0800 183 1485 
  • Bradford: 0800 952 1181
  • Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield: 0800 183 0558

*Reference: Mind warns that people with mental health problems struggle with self-harm and suicidal feelings due to the pressure of Christmas | Mind, the mental health charity - help for mental health problems