In the News: Four in 10 hide poor mental health when calling in sick

A quarter of staff worried they would not be taken seriously if they told their employer they were suffering from poor mental health, a survey of 1,001 UK employees by health and wellbeing provider BHSF discovered.

Almost two-thirds felt their colleagues had negative perceptions of mental health issues, while 88% of those with a mental health issue said their job was either the main cause or a contributing factor in the way they were feeling.

BHSF calculated that the average employee takes 8.4 days off sick every year because of their mental health – potentially resulting in huge economic costs. Yet only 15% of employees said they would tell their boss about it.

Fifty-six per cent of those polled said they suffered from stress; 36% had anxiety and 25% had depression.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, long-term physical health conditions and mental health issues are inextricably linked: around 15 million people have a long-term health condition, four million of whom also experience poor mental health.

Separate research by charity Crohn’s & Colitis UK earlier this year revealed that four in 10 people with a recurring health condition felt anxious when calling in sick, while 28% experienced stress.

“The scale of this problem is huge – and it is being massively underestimated by employers, with employees feeling that they have to mask the issues they are facing,” said Dr Philip McCrea, chief medical officer at BHSF.

“Mental health problems do not suddenly materialise. The vast majority of individuals suffering from poor mental health will show obvious signs, which are easy to spot in the workplace. Line managers, or nominated individuals, should be trained to spot the first signs.

“For employers, developing early intervention strategies is critical – this includes the provision of mental health first-aiders, providing adequate mental health training for managers, and resilience building for employees, amongst other things.”

The survey results form part of BHSF’s report – Hiding in plain sight: mental health in the workplace – which suggests ways employers can tackle mental health problems and create a “mentally healthy” workplace.

It provides nine steps HR and managers can take to encourage positive mental health:

  • leading from the top by setting the tone that mental health should not be perceived negatively;
  • identifying the scale of the problem by conducting a survey of the staff;
  • creating an open environment where employees can come forward about any problems;
  • training line managers to spot the signs of poor mental health;
  • practicing early intervention;
  • training mental health first aiders;
  • providing an employee assistance programme;
  • engaging an occupational health professional to assist; and
  • educating employees about the benefits of exercise, healthy eating and sleep.

Link to original blog:

A huge thank you to the wonderful Sophie from the Confetti Cakery who made our celebration event extra special!

Sophie made us over a hundred personalised biscuit favors for each of our guests. They really made the evening feel so special (and tasted amazing!!).

Whilst we were celebrating 11 years saving lives and raising money to drive services forward we were also able to show each guest our appreciation of their support.

The event allowed us to celebrate our work but also continue to provide life saving services, so a huge thank you to Sophie for believing in us, supporting us and ultimately helping us save lives.

The Harmless and Tomorrow Project team x

Mental health: Children face struggle for services

Children in Northern Ireland face a constant fight for mental health support, a review has found.

The critical report, by the children’s commissioner, found a system under significant pressure and described the pace of reform as “glacial”.

Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma said urgent reform is required.

The review is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland. The Department of Health said it acknowledges it “can and must do better”.

Those behind the review gathered the views of about 600 people including children, young people and their carers about their experience of accessing mental health services.

The report made 50 recommendations and addressed what happens when a young person has the added problem of living with a learning disability.It states that insufficient resources are only partly to blame for the pace of reform.

Ms Yiasouma said: “I have found the system wanting in areas such as lengthy waiting times and the high proportion of children not being accepted to specialist services.

“(There are also) problems with access to services for children with learning difficulties, or drug and alcohol issues, unacceptable failings in the care of children in mental health crises, and reliance on the use of medication to treat mental ill health. “However, all these areas can be addressed if prioritised – even now without an executive.”

On average, children said they were 14 when they started to look for help. The review’s title, ‘Still Waiting’, is designed to reflect the length of time young people wait before seeking help, and the time it takes for them to receive the right support.

Jessica’s story

Jessica Stitt, 18, lives in Bangor and describes being “passed around like a parcel” as she tried to access services for her mental health issues.

“Everything is such a mess because I am 18 now and I am an adult – it just feels like the mental health system has said goodbye.

“I don’t feel that young people are listened to or taken seriously. You see the GP, then the hospital, then counsellors and you have to tell your story every time… you just keep going round in circles and getting nowhere,” she added.

As a result of her learning disability, Jessica says she cannot socialise with people very well. At one stage, things got so bad that she took an overdose. “I just wanted to die, I didn’t want to be here no one was listening to me.”

According to her mum, Laverne, there is no evidence of organisations working together. “There is no link-up. They don’t pass on notes – maybe if they did they would all be on the same wavelength. Kids with a learning disability get it tough.”

This is a point that is supported by the commissioner’s review. In fact, it stresses that people with a learning disability and a mental health issue have greater difficulty accessing services than other groups in society.

The report states that is partly because, in order to access mental health services, they have to show that their mental health is unrelated to their learning disability.

Timing, according to the commissioner, is a huge issue.

“Children wait to ask for help, they wait to receive the right support and we all wait for systems to catch up with how young people need that support to be provided,” she said.

To try to reform the system, the ‘Stepped Care Model’ was introduced by the Department of Health in 2012.

It recommends a range of psychological therapies to treat people with depression and anxiety disorders.

Gaps in collection of data

According to the review, despite the model emphasising the importance of services working together, the reality looks quite different. It notes that the rate of change has been too slow and not sufficient to meet the growing demand and changing needs of children today. The review also found alarming gaps in how the system collects data, including why young people are not being accepted to specialist mental health services.

It also concluded that the amount of money spent on children’s mental health services is inadequate, with an outlay of £31m in Northern Ireland, representing just 0.8% of the overall health budget.

The report makes a number of recommendations including better training in mental health for GPs; fast tracking young people to services where possible via the GP; and joining up crisis response services, in particular within the emergency department setting. The Department of Health said it welcomed the report and is “committed to delivering real and meaningful improvements”.

‘Limited resources’

A spokesperson said: “This is a complex and challenging area, where need is continually evolving and demand is increasing. “Dedicated colleagues right across the system work tirelessly with limited resources to deliver high quality services.

“However, we know we can and must do better. Through our transformation programme, the department and the senior leadership team of the Health and Social Care (HSC) Board are committed to delivering real and meaningful improvements. “Nowhere is this more important than in meeting the mental health needs of our young people.

“This report makes a key contribution to this process and we look forward to working with the commissioner going forward, and indeed with young people and their families, to make improvements and deliver better services,” added the spokesperson. The Department of Health said it was a “complex and challenging area, where need is continually evolving and demand is increasing”.

“Dedicated colleagues right across the system work tirelessly with limited resources to deliver high quality services.

“However, we know we can and must do better. Through our transformation programme, the department and the senior leadership team of the HSC are committed to delivering real and meaningful improvements.

“Nowhere is this more important than in meeting the mental health needs of our young people.”

Link to original blog:

Let’s talk training at the Norfolk suicide prevention learning event

Today our amazing Let’s Talk Training team are presenting at the Norfolk Suicide Prevention Learning Event #iamokay

Sarah and Clare will be delivering a workshop looking at Self Harm and suicide prevention.

If you’re at the event please say hello to our training team, they would love to meet you!

From Harm to Hope, Friday 1st March 2019

Harmless’ third national self harm conference will be held on Friday 1st March 2019, Self Harm Awareness Day. This year’s theme is: ‘our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes’.

£150 per delegate place*
2 delegate places for £200*

Conference details:

The theme of our conference is Our young people: intervention & early intervention for improved outcomes. 

Harmless recognises that self harm affects a broad range of individuals, facing many diverse experiences; reducing the number of individuals that self harm requires contributions from across society and includes education, prevention, intervention and postvention work.

This exciting new event will bring together private, public, voluntary and community sector organisations, individuals with lived experience of self harm and practitioners & academics in the field of self harm in an ethos of joint working and shared experience.

Our conference is themed around five strategic areas:

  • Collaborative partnership,
  • Service user representation,
  • Effective practice,
  • Driving change &
  • Overcoming stigma and discrimination.

Delegates can expect to take away from the conference a range of knowledge, inspiration and practical applications for the implementation in real life personal and professional situations. Learning from some of the leaders in the field, delegates will have access to interactive sessions that can drive change in the field of self harm.


Dr Nav Kapur

Dr ​Alys Cole-King

Prof. Siobhan O’Neill

Dr Sarah Cassidy

Tonight’s the night

This evening we are coming together, old friends and new, to celebrate our life-saving work. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome you!

We will be speaking about our work, celebrating our triumphs, and raising vital funds so we can keep driving change in the fields of self harm and suicide prevention.

We will also be celebrating an amazing 11 years of saving lives! We are so proud and honoured to celebrate this alongside our supporters – we couldn’t do it without you.

See you this evening in raising a glass to our life saving service; you’re all a part of it!

Suicide leaves a legacy of suicide.

We know that when one person dies by suicide the chance of another known to them taking their own life becomes significantly heightened.

The pain people feel is often complicated when we lose someone we love to suicide; it can be masked with laughter and smiles and a big heart. We hear these things all of the time: ‘we didn’t see this coming… he was the life and soul of the party… they always had time for everyone else’s problems’.

The Tomorrow Project was established to reach out to a community (and now much further afield) after suicide and we are still here. After learning of the tragic loss of another of East Leake’s friends we would like to extend our condolences and offer anyone impacted the opportunity to chat, or reach out to us.

We will be hosting a number of drop in services in the village which will take place tomorrow (Thursday 27/09/18) 10:30am – 12pm in our East Leake office on Station Road (beside St Mary’s Church). Here, you can talk to our staff about any difficulties you are having around being impacted by a death by suicide.

We will be at The Three Horseshoes on this same day, Thursday 27/09/18 at 13:00 where we will be able to talk to anyone about any difficulties you are having around being impacted by a death by suicide.

If anyone wants to make contact with us direct we can set up time to meet up with you. You can contact us on Facebook, via email on, or via telephone on 0115 880 0280. We can then arrange to meet with you, potentially in our East Leake office, at a time that’s best for you.