Estimating suicide among higher education students, England and Wales: Experimental Statistics – Office for National

The Office of National Statistics has recently released a new paper on suicides among higher education students in England and Wales. Here are the key points of the paper….
• The rate of suicide in the 12 months ending July 2017 for higher education students in England and Wales was 4.7 deaths per 100,000 students, which equates to 95 suicides; this is higher than in most of the earlier years studied, although the small numbers per year make it difficult to identify statistically significant differences.
• Between the 12 months ending July 2013 and the 12 months ending July 2016, higher education students in England and Wales had a significantly lower suicide rate compared with the general population of similar ages.
• Male higher education students had a significantly higher rate of suicide compared with female students.
• The number of suicides in the analysis is lower than previous Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates of student suicides; this is likely to be because this analysis focuses on higher education students only, while the ONS previous estimates will cover other students, for example, those in further education.
For the full paper please click here:

One in four UK employees who seek help for mental health issues delays getting treatment because they do not understand their symptoms.

Research from private healthcare group Bupa examined employees’ understanding of psychological and behavioural symptoms of six of the most prevalent mental health conditions in the UK.
More than 70m working days are lost each year in the UK due to mental health problems, statistics from the Mental Health Foundation show.
The Bupa research shows that inaccurate assumptions caused almost 7m to delay seeking support for a mental health problem.
Although the findings show that general awareness of mental health issues have improved among nearly three quarters of workers over the last five years, knowledge of symptoms is still lacking, with six in 10 (59 per cent) unable to name the main traits of specific conditions.
More than 70m working days are lost each year in the UK due to mental health problems, statistics from the Mental Health Foundation show.
The Bupa research shows that inaccurate assumptions caused almost 7m to delay seeking support for a mental health problem.
Although the findings show that general awareness of mental health issues have improved among nearly three quarters of workers over the last five years, knowledge of symptoms is still lacking, with six in 10 (59 per cent) unable to name the main traits of specific conditions.
Bipolar is the most misunderstood condition with 85 per cent of people unable to identify the symptoms of lacking energy, feeling sad, hopeless and irritable, and having difficulty concentrating. Other symptoms include elevated mood and hyperactivity.
Nine out of 10 (91%) are able to identify the key symptoms of depression and nearly half (49%) are able to recognise the most common signs of anxiety which include restlessness, a sense of dread or insomnia.
Link to full article here:

Beat the Blues: How to go back to work after a holiday

The sun is shining; the pollen count high and with the arrival of summer so too begins the time for holidays. Holidays are a fantastic opportunity to rest, recuperate and restore both the body and mind whether you are going abroad, or lounging at home. Hand in hand with holidays comes the daunting, stomach twisting post-holiday blues that often makes us feel like chucking it all in and opening up a small café on some Mediterranean island.
However, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. I’ve been asking the staff here at Harmless for their best tips to prepare you for heading back to work.
Enjoy the time you have left; Katie suggests planning in lots of self-care activities in the lead up to returning to work
New adventures; Chloe likes to makes sure that she has future events to look forward to.
Be kind to yourself; Val recommends, when you return to work, make sure you eat your lunch away from your desk and remember to take breaks
Spend time with your loved ones; Colin enjoys spending time with his children being silly and having lots of fun.
Reminisce the good times; Claire advocates reflecting on how nice your time off has been, and what you’ve gained from spending some time away.
Win the fight against emails; I (Sarah) find it really helpful, when I return to work, to read through my emails in chunks deleting those I don’t need and ‘flagging’ those I need to action.
We hope you find these tips helpful! If you have any good tips on how to beat the back to work blues please feel free to share them with us in the comments…

FREE mental health training for Derbyshire county workers!

Harmless are happy to announce we’ve been funded by Derbyshire County Council to deliver mental health awareness sessions to staff and volunteers from statutory, community and voluntary sector organisations working in Derbyshire county. Over the next year, we’ll be rolling these sessions out across Derbyshire to build knowledge and confidence on mental health within the county’s workforce, and we’re excited that we’re now taking registrations of interest for our first two dates!


Monday 16th July (pm) Melbourne

Wednesday 18th July (am) Chesterfield

The only prerequisite for the training is that you must work in Derbyshire county (not city).

Next week we’ll be confirming more details about times, locations, and how to book your place. For now, email us at







In the news: Mental health at work: how far have we come?

Mental Health Awareness Week is an important annual event which brings the topic to the forefront both in our personal and professional lives.

Accountancy Age did some special features during the week to mark the occasion, but it didn’t stop there. Together with HRD Connect, we put out a survey to our audiences asking about their experiences of mental health at work.

The overwhelming focus of the feedback was on communication. We need to be able to talk about mental health at work, freely and openly and with no fears of any consequences. We must view it on par with our physical health. Only then can we progress.

Is mental health accepted in the workplace?

Out of the survey respondents, 22% said they would not feel comfortable in disclosing a mental health illness to their place of work, while 30% were unsure whether they would. This meant less than half of respondents gave a positive response, with 33% saying they would feel ‘quite comfortable’ and only 15% would be very comfortable to talk to their workplace about their mental health.

In spite of the above, 55% of respondents said they had taken a day off work for mental health reasons, meaning many of those who are or have suffered with their mental health did not feel comfortable in disclosing this at work. Indeed, 38% of those who have taken a day off for mental health said they did not tell their workplace it was for this reason.

Part of accepting mental health is talking about it, and letting others know that they can share how they are feeling it if they want to. While attitudes towards mental health are slowly changing, 40% of respondents said that it is hardly ever discussed at work, and 20% said they only talk about it maybe once every month. When you ask your colleagues how they are every day, they should be able to respond honestly.

The majority of respondents, 49%, agreed that mental health is no longer a taboo subject, reflecting the fact that we are moving in the right direction, even though 46% think it is still taboo, and 5% said they don’t know.

How can leadership help?

When asked whether they would prefer to speak to colleagues or managers about mental health, the majority said colleagues (36%), although 22% said they would talk to managers.

One way leadership can help improve attitudes towards mental health at work is by sharing their own experiences. Almost three quarters (74%) of survey respondents said this would be helpful to them and their colleagues, and it’s an initiatives that managers and directors at quite a few firms are now adopting, including the Big Four.

Expanding on this, we asked the audience how senior management could help to normalise mental health in the workplace.

Lots of suggestions were shared, including having trained Mental Health First Aiders, a company-wide mental health policy, allowing sick days for mental health, educational talks and seminars, encouraging work-life balance, taking every case seriously, and disciplining any manager who fails to assist staff with issues.

Personal experiences of mental health at work

Over half of respondents, 52%, said that a mental health condition had made them feel isolated at work at some point. Also 23% said they had been discriminated against for a mental health condition at work, a shocking figure when no-one should face treatment like that.

Issues like this can be changed be simply improving communication around the subject, listening when people need you to, and not letting others be disrespectful.

Very few respondents said that working with a colleague with a mental health condition would make them feel uncomfortable, though for the 10% that were unsure and the 1% who would feel uncomfortable, there needs to be an education piece.

Those who said they weren’t sure they would be comfortable cited reasons like they don’t want to make it worse by bringing the topic up in conversation or they feel like they don’t understand the condition. Again this can be remedied through education.

What needs to change

The fact that 43% of respondents said their company has a fair attitude towards mental health is encouraging, but something needs to be done about the 18% of people that feel their company doesn’t. People should not be driven out of jobs or made to suffer in silence because their employer is not caring for them properly.

In the same question, 39% answered that ‘more could be done’ and then provided some suggestions.

Recommendations included encouraging discussion around mental health, including mental health in private healthcare coverage and educating employees and management about mental health.

Are we stressed at work?

An overwhelming majority of 77% of respondents said they regularly feel stressed at work.

Work load was the main reason people get stressed, followed closely by the people they work with. The environment they work in and the daily tasks they have to complete were also causes of stress. For 30% of respondents, work is naturally stressful because of the demands of the specific job they do.

Other sources of stress are commuting, unsupportive management, no prospects, lack of recognition, unrealistic expectations, and self-pressure.

Interestingly, stress seems to be viewed in a slightly different way to general mental health, since 64% of respondents said they would tell management if they were feeling regularly stressed.

Those who said they wouldn’t feel comfortable addressing this with management cited a myriad of reasons as to why, including being worried about losing their job, receiving a negative response or being judged, or feeling like a let-down.

Respondents also came up with solid solutions that workplaces could take on to combat stress.

A flexible working policy and stress-relieving activities at work were the top two solutions. Classes on managing stress, a better working environment, and education around how to be healthier were also desired among respondents.

When asked for specific feedback, our audience shared very powerful advice:

“Listen to us. Hear us. Understand us. Value us. All the bells and whistles in the world cannot make up for being unappreciated.”

“Ensure that people are treated with respect at all levels of the organisation. Stop insisting we check emails when we’re supposed to be on holiday. Stop suggesting weekend work.”

“We need better education at leadership level on how to treat people as people and active encouragement for people to put wellbeing first. After all we know that when that happens people work more efficiently, get more done and to a higher standard.”

How important is a work-life balance?

When asked what people define a good work-life balance as, having a flexible working policy was the favourite option (47%). A lot of people also thought that occasionally working over time was ok, as long as you mostly stick to contracted hours.

What was more negative was the fact that 83% of respondents have, at some point, sacrificed their wellbeing or happiness for the sake of their career.

The reasons people felt they had to do this were because they were scared of losing their job, they needed to stay due to their finances, and because colleagues were doing it so they felt pressurised.

Instead of encouraging employees to work overtime, which in the end has a negative impact on productivity or employees’ health, we should be sharing ways to relax, switch off, and find balance in our lives.

Exactly 50% of respondents said they switch off by relaxing at home with a book or their favourite TV show. Lots of people (37%) enjoy socialising and 30% said they relax by pursuing a hobby outside of work. For 47% of respondents all of the above is built into their lives outside of work. Unfortunately 11% said they struggle to switch off at all, and this is where it is important for colleagues and management to be setting good examples and telling people it’s ok to look after them.

Link to full blog here:

In the News:gaming firms should have a statutory ‘duty of care’ to protect children from mental ill health

Social media and online gaming firms should have a statutory ‘duty of care’ to protect children from mental ill health, abuse and addictive behaviour.

The NHS is “picking up the pieces” of an epidemic of mental illness among children, fuelled by social media, the head of the service has warned.

Simon Stevens urged companies like Google and Facebook to take more responsibility for the pressures they place on children.

It follows calls for social media and online gaming firms to have a statutory “duty of care” to protect children from mental ill health, abuse and addictive behaviour.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester, Mr Stevens said Britain’s children were hit by a “double epidemic” of mental illness and obesity.

The average person in this country spends twice as long on the toilet as they do exercisingSimon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England

But he said the health service could not tackle its ills alone – turning on social media giants to do more to protect children.

“We have to ask some pretty searching questions around the role of technology companies, social media and the impact that is having on childhood,” he said.

“This cannot be a conversation that is simply left to the NHS to pick up the pieces for an epidemic of mental health challenge for our young people, induced by many other actors across our economy.”

He also called for more action to tackle unhealthy lifestyles, and said he hoped to see “renewed pragmatism” from the Government in its updated childhood obesity strategy, due to be published soon.

Link to full blog here:

In the News: almost half of GP appointments now involved mental health, survey finds

A new survey has revealed that 40 per cent of GP appointments now involve mental health.
For many of us, our GPs are the first port of call for accessing support for mental health.
So much so, that a survey of more than 1,000 GPs, conducted by mental health charity Mind, has revealed that two in three GPs (66 per cent) say the proportion of patients needing help with their mental health has increased in the last 12 months.
GPs also say that two in five (40 per cent) of their appointments now involve mental health.
As a result of the findings, Mind is now calling for better mental health training for GPs with the support of four out of five doctors who agree there should be a wider range of options.
Link to the full blog here:

Science shows that spending time outdoors can actually make you healthier.

Escaping to the woods, mountains or even your local park positively supports both your body and your mind. And psychologists and health researchers are finding more and more science-backed reasons we should spend time outside.

Research conducted at the University of Essex showed that the colour green, such as that found on trees, grass and other plants in nature, makes exercise feel easier. The small study tested cyclists pedaling in front of green, grey and red images. Those exercising in front of the green showed less mood disturbances and reported that they felt lower exertion during their cycling.

Most of us are aware that a quick walk around the block does wonders for the mind. But what a new study reveals is that if you want to come back with your brain power enhanced, the scenery en route really matters.

Not only this… taking a stroll can also increase creativity. Research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that walking increases creative production. And while walking anywhere — whether through the woods or in town — is beneficial in that it prompts creativity.

Spending time in nature has been shown to lower stress levels so what are we waiting for? Who’s joining us on a scenic walk?


Thoughts from our photographer, Thomas

“I’m honoured to announce I am currently shooting portraits for Harmless the tomorrow project creating a city wide display of images that will be shown on World Suicide prevention day 2018. I greatly respect the work they do and so I appreciate anyone who follows our Instagram to keep up to date with the project” – Thomas Griffiths, Photographer.
We are incredibly excited to be working with photographer Thomas Griffiths on our World Suicide Prevention day exhibition. A photography project about suicide, whether you’ve faced your own suicidal thoughts/crisis, been bereaved by suicide or helped someone #thisisallofus
We have created an Instagram feed sharing the stories of hope in the build up to our photography exhibition. Please follow
If you would like to take part please email with your contact details and a brief paragraph about your experiences.
Please take a look at Thomas’ work:

Join us to celebrate 11 years of Harmless…


The celebration evening will mark a milestone in our work, as we celebrate our 11th anniversary, and give us the opportunity to raise revenue to keep our vital services afloat. Each year we spend time with friends and colleagues, celebrating the work that we have done and the lives that we have saved and the money we raise on the night goes directly back into our life saving services.

The Date:
Saturday 29th September 2018

The Venue:
Ruddington Grange Golf Club, Wilford Road, Ruddington, NG11 6NB

The Cost:
£40.00 per head
Or a table of 10 for £350 (£35 per head)

The Event:
Three course meal with raffle, silent auction, games & live music

Dress Code:

The purpose:
To raise enough money to save more lives!

Please come along and join is in what will be a wonderful night, learn more about our work, celebrate our triumphs and help us to raise money to keep us driving services in the field of self harm and suicide prevention forwards.