Listening is an underrated skill.
We think that we do it all the time, but there’s a difference between hearing and actively listening.
Listening can be incredibly powerful. It can provide a lifeline for someone who is struggling, prevent someone hitting crisis point, and can turn a life around.
Today, the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, working with Samaritans, is launching Wellbeing in the City, an initiative that will put listening at the heart of our businesses.
Every year, around 600 people die by suicide across London, according to ONS figures. The 2017 Business in the Community report found that three out of every five employees have experienced mental health issues due to work, or where work was a contributing factor.
Across the City, we have a responsibility to support our people, to look out for them and to offer help when needed.
Wellbeing in the City is a ground-breaking emotional support programme for City workers, bringing Samaritans’ expertise into the workplace. Two new interactive online programmes have been created: Samaritans Active Listening Skills and Samaritans Wellbeing Toolkit.
Each programme takes less than an hour to complete and can be accessed in short sections of around 10 minutes. These resources require only a small commitment, but could make a huge difference.
Trialled by PwC, the online programmes build resilience, encourage employees to take care of themselves, listen to others, and be there for others.
Stepping in and talking to colleagues about mental or emotional health can be daunting. Naturally, we worry that we might say the wrong thing or make matters worse.
The Samaritans’ resources give people the courage and confidence to intervene, the skills to actively listen and practical suggestions on how to manage difficult conversations. Giving time, paying attention, and actively listening can have a huge impact.
It is not just the personal cost of mental or emotional ill health which gives us reason to take these issues seriously.
In 2016-2017, work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 40 per cent of work-related ill health and 49 per cent of working days lost. To be able to offer support to people who might need it is not just a human response – it is one that can boost our businesses and increase productivity.
Part of our This is Me campaign, the new initiative reflects the revamped Lord Mayor’s Appeal. Now a multi-year project, the Appeal is working with three charity partners over three years: Place2Be, Onside Youth Zones and, of course, Samaritans. We are working to make the City more inclusive, healthy, skilled and fair – a better City for all.
Individuals and organisations can sign up to Wellbeing in the City right now, free of charge and I encourage you to do so. Together, we can create a whole network of support across the City.
With your help and a commitment to listening, I believe the initiative will not only change lives: it could save lives too.
Find out more at samaritans.org/wellbeinginthecity.