Workplace Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention

Have you checked your support network recently? Do you need some support?

Paul Vittles


It’ll be World Suicide Prevention Day soon, 10 September (#WSPD2020) and there’ll be many events and activities taking place around the world, mostly online of course due to COVID19, which has been another source of stress, uncertainty, anxiety, concern, frustration, anger, fear…on top of all the other factors that adversely affect our wellbeing.

World Suicide Prevention Day is an annual event designed to raise awareness of the problem of suicide (someone takes their own life every 40 seconds, despite most suicides being preventable) and what can be done to save lives (indeed, transform this tragic source of loss and move towards zero suicides), including much that can be done in our policies, services, and workplaces.

This year, I’ve been assisting One Team Gov in organising a major event on #WSPD2020 itself (#OTGSP) as well as supporting a ‘Breakfast Takeover’ a discussion with Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) from over 20 government departments on 19 August.

A screen shot from the Fun Retro board used to gather topics for discussion ahead of breakfast.

On 10 September, 2–4pm, we’ve got a superb line-up of Contributors. It’s an open event, everyone welcome, and you can sign up here:

The OneTeamGov event will be one of many suicide prevention events on #WSPD2020:

and a really important event — due to the knowledge, experiences, and ideas of the Contributors; the knowledge, wisdom and contacts of those attending; and the collective capacity of all those participating…to ‘make a difference’!

Wellbeing Support Grid

The World Suicide Prevention Day event is designed to support our shared goals of optimal mental health and suicide prevention. One tool I’ve used many times for past events, workshops, group therapy and one-to-one counselling — and which will be available for all those attending the OneTeamGov event — is my Wellbeing Support Grid.

Photo: the wellbeing support grid, this shows a table that can be filled in by participants, columns across the top read Who supports? What supports? How supports? and down the first column there are a number of types of people; Partner, Family member, Friend, Colleague / Work contact, Neighbour, GP, Mental Health Professionals, Community Support Groups, Peer support groups, Online support networks, Other. By reviewing what goes into each of these boxes, participants can get a feel for the strength of their support network and make active changes to strengthen this in certain areas. We are happy to provide an accessible version of this grid at people’s request.

I ran through this at a recent Workplace Wellbeing event, with the COVID19-founded title ‘Survive and Thrive’ for the Market Research Society (MRS) Young Researchers Network ‘&more, and it has been posted on the MRS website along with the webinar recording:

It’s a simple and effective concept. You look at the Grid, think about your current wellbeing supports:

  • who provides you with support?
  • what support do they provide?
  • how do they provide that support?

…and then populate your personal grid (and you can use it to check on your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours too).

Are there lots of entries in each box, especially in those top 5 rows? If so, it’s evidence that you might have a strong support network. If not, it flags that you might need to do a bit more thinking, a bit of research, a bit of talking to a few potential supports, to strengthen your network.

Of course someone who feels well will not need so much support. Everyone needs some support to maintain optimal mental health, but you’ll have a sense of what you might need at this point-in-time. But what about if you weren’t well? What about if something unexpected happens. Do you have a strong wellbeing support network that you can quickly activate?

If you’re not well, or you are preparing for times when you might not be well, it’s important to also populate those bottom rows as well. You might also need to help a family member, friend, colleague, or neighbour, so knowing what support is available (in your area) is good prevention against mental ill-health, out-of-control crisis situations, and suicide risk.

It’s quite possible that you could be thinking ‘where do I start to look?’, especially if you’ve tried to populate your Grid and seen that it has a lot of blank boxes. I’ve added a few good initial sources and hubs you can go to, but do also check out sources particular to your needs and circumstances, and in your local area.

External/Specialist Supports Available

Below is the type of content that I put underneath the Wellbeing Support Grid (or on the reverse side when it’s a paper handout). It can be tailored of course.

The most important messages for those who might be struggling are, first and foremost, you are never alone (there may be times when you feel alone, most people experience loneliness, but support is always available) and, second, there are lots of different types of supports available.

When you first start looking around for support in the fields of mental health and wellbeing (and, specifically, suicide prevention), the large number of diverse sources of support available can itself be a problem, especially if someone is distressed and finding it difficult to decide which source of support to choose.

So, it’s good to scan these sources of support while you’re healthy, to be prepared for any situations where you, or someone you know, are not in good health and need to access these sources.

Here’s a few starters, but do scan other sources, including any sources locally available for you.

Centre for Mental Health

This site includes crisis support services (emergency services, Samaritans) and mental health support (MIND, Rethink Mental Illness, PAPYRUS, Young Minds UK, the Campaign Against Living Miserably — CALM, and SANE):

Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA)

Top right of the website is ‘Need urgent help’ with access to lots of support services. Top left of the website is the ‘ZSA Resources’ hub. And please check out the evidence-based, peer-reviewed online suicide prevention training, which can help you have a (potentially life-saving) conversation with someone who is suicidal:


A terrific site, with a wide range of support services and other sites available. The Brighton base of Grassroots has helped to make it strong on diversity and inclusion, and supporting younger people, but it has grown to be one of the world’s best resources for mental health and suicide prevention support:


A fantastic information and training source, including the Connecting with People suicide prevention training (and check out through the main website, plus the ‘sister site’

Every Mind Matters

The current UK Government/NHS/PHE initiative to support mental health during the COVID19 Crisis:

Why Not Attend the #OTGSP #WSPD2020 Event? Learn more about wellbeing support and suicide prevention. Be part of the solution!

I’ve been curating speakers for the event, assisting with the Resources List to be circulated to all those who attend, and helping to plan and provide Wellbeing Support for those who attend, in addition to the dozens of Mental Health First Aiders who’ll be providing support for #OTGSP #WSPD2020.

If you’re not a member of the OneTeamGov network, you may be wondering who they are. They’re a diverse, talented, committed network of people working in government at all levels, in all forms in all locations (and working with government) on public sector reform, including digital transformation:

Whether you’re a member of the OneTeamGov network, or not, you might be wondering who the organisers of the #OTGSP #WSPD2020 event are:

Paul Vittles is an economist, researcher, consultant, community engagement pioneer, coach, counsellor, and facilitator. After three decades of practical transformation, working with government at all levels in the UK and Australia (including more than 80 councils, and many more attending Paul’s talks and workshops), Paul is now a Transformational Change Consultant (and a Sustainable Success Coach — taking into account optimal mental health, ethical practice, and human sustainability designed-in to business models).

Paul lectures at Business Schools on “Facilitating Transformational Change: Vision, Strategy, Engagement, Delivery”. Much of his practice these days is focused on transformational change in suicide prevention to move us towards zero suicide.



Paul Vittles

Researcher (FMRS), marketer (FAMI), consultant, coach & counsellor who helps people and organisations with transformational change and sustainable success.