Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Services
Hello everyone and I hope that this Wednesday finds you well – given that the sun is shining today again. It seems to be that most Wednesdays are lovely – apart from the day that we planned our last Wellbeing Walk!! Let’s hope that we can organise the weather to behave for the next one.
This week we are covering two very important topics. The first is Suicide Prevention. When a loved one takes their own life, those impacted by their death often find themselves feeling that there must have been something that they should have been able to do to reach that person at their darkest of times. As someone whose family has been affected by suicide, I know that the sense of ‘what if….’ does not go away and it is hard to know how to move forward. Suicide Prevention Day is about learning what you can do to reach out when you see that someone is struggling. The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day – Creating Hope through Action is such a positive one and taking action can be as simple as listening to someone who needs to be heard, but who perhaps cannot find the words to ask. Look out for your loved ones and your colleagues – they are precious. And if you yourself are finding that you are having suicidal thoughts, please, please reach out and get the help that is here for you.
Our second topic this week is about Knowing your Numbers – whether it is your blood pressure, your resting pulse, your blood sugar or your cholesterol. Understanding our bodies can keep us healthy by enabling us to act quickly when we spot a change. I know that keeping a close eye on my peak flow helps me to manage my asthma.
Finally – don’t forget that our wellbeing survey is still open. Thanks to those of you who have responded so far. Those of you who haven’t – you have until 15th September to share your views and help us to keep wellbeing relevant to you and your needs. We want to hear from you. You can access the survey here.
World Suicide Prevention Day - 10 September 2021
Every year organisations and communities around the world come together to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.
There were 833 deaths in Scotland due to suicide in 2019, which was an increase of 49 on the previous year.
One in every 100 deaths worldwide is the result of suicide. This worrying statistic is from the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). They make it their job to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around suicide. Their aim is to reduce suicide numbers on a global scale.
To support this, World Suicide Prevention Day takes place every year on the 10th of September. The day promotes open, honest and genuine conversations about suicide. It’s been running across the world since 2003 and this year the theme is: ‘Creating Hope Through Action’.
Creating hope through action
This year’s theme serves to remind us all that there is always an alternative to suicide. Everyone has the potential to intervene and be a light of hope to someone who is struggling. We can help to reduce the number of suicides globally by reaching out to friends, family, strangers and colleagues.
Suicidal thoughts are confusing and complex. What might help one person might not help another. People with existing medical conditions like anxiety or depression may be more vulnerable to suicide. Sometimes, it can be life events that trigger suicidal thoughts. There isn’t always a clear cause. These thoughts make people feel alone and trapped. But there are ways you can take action this World Suicide Prevention Day.
- Look out for people who are struggling. When people are suffering, they tend not to speak up for fear of embarrassment or judgement. Look out for people in your life who don’t seem like their usual selves. Pay attention to mood shifts, changes in sleep and an increased drug or alcohol usage. If you intervene early, you’re more likely to make an impact.
- Check in with those close to you. Regularly reaching out to check in with the people in your life can be a great help. Your call might be the contact they need to prevent their feelings from worsening.
- An ear of empathy. Don’t be afraid of saying the wrong thing or making the situation worse. You don’t need to have all the answers. Research shows that compassion, empathy, connection and non-judgement are the best way to support. All you have to do is listen.
- Spread the word. Raising awareness around suicide is the first step to reshaping the narrative. This is something we can all play a part in. Share educational materials with people you know. Learn more about suicide and its effects, then spread the word to others.
- Light a candle. The IASP is encouraging people to light a candle by a window on World Suicide Prevention Day this year. At 8 pm, light up a candle and pop it in the window as a symbol of support for suicide prevention. It’s also seen as a token to remember lost loved ones and survivors of suicide.
- Know the support available. Whether you or someone you know is struggling, it’s good to know what support is available—should you ever need it. Further details below:
- NHS inform
- Samaritans (The Samaritans also provide 24/7 telephone support on 116 123).
- Mental Health Foundation
The Employee Assistance Programme provided by Health Assured offer a 24/7 telephone service and a range of supportive options including online programmes and telephone counselling sessions. You can contact them on their free helpline 0800 028 0199.
For more information on World Suicide Prevention Day and how you can participate click here.
Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, Heart Rate and Cholesterol awareness. Do you know your numbers?
This week is Know Your Numbers Week. Do you know what is healthy and what is not?
Blood pressure (BP)
Your heart is a muscular pump. It pumps blood around your body using a system of blood vessels. BP is created by the force of your heart pumping blood out and the resistance of the vessel walls through which the blood passes.
BP is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is usually written down like this: 120/70 mmHg. There are two numbers, because BP varies as the heart beats. The high number is the peak pressure created as the heart beats. The lower number is the residual pressure within the vessels as the heart rests between each beat. High BP (or hypertension) is a reading greater than 140/90 mmHg.
Ideally, we should all have a BP below 120/80 which is the ideal for good health. At this level, we have a much lower risk of heart disease or stroke. Most adults in the UK have BP readings between 120/80 to 140/90. If your BP is within this range, you should be taking steps to bring it down to stop it rising any further.
If you have diabetes, your doctor will want to make sure that your BP is very well controlled. This means they will probably want it to be below 130/80 mmHg.
For more information on how to get a blood pressure check, visit the Blood Pressure UK website.
Blood glucose/blood sugar
The average normal blood glucose level in humans without diabetes fluctuates but it should be between 4.0 and 7.8 mmol/L. Both numbers are important.
Hyperglycaemia is the medical term for a high blood sugar level. (Greater than 11.1 mmol/L (200mg/dL)). It is a common problem for people with diabetes. It happens when the body has too little insulin or when it can’t use insulin properly.
Hypoglycaemia is when a person’s blood sugar drops too low. (Less than 4 mmol/L (70mg/dL)). Blood sugar levels are usually at their lowest in the morning, before the first meal of the day (termed the fasting level), and rise after meals for an hour or two by a few mmol/L.
Blood sugar levels outside of the normal range may be an indicator of a medical condition. If you are diabetic, your medical team will test your blood regularly for a substance called HbA1c. HbA1c differs from blood glucose levels. It is a blood protein made from a combination of haemaglobin and glucose (or sugar). The measurement allows clinicians to get an overall picture of what your average blood sugar levels have been over a period of weeks/months. HbA1c can indicate people with pre-diabetes or diabetes as follows:
- Normal = Below 42 mmol/mol (<6.0%)
- Prediabetes = 42 to 47 mmol/mol (6.0%-6.4%)
- Diabetes = >=48 mmol/mol (>=6.5%)
For more information on blood sugar click here
Heart rate (or pulse)
A normal resting heart rate for adults is between 60 to 100 beats a minute. Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness, e.g. a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats a minute. You may have heard of the term “sinus rhythm”. This is the name given to the normal rhythm of the heart, where the electrical impulses that pace the heartbeat are in a regular and rhythmical manner.
You can find more information on how to check your heart rate here:
This is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D and substances that help you to digest foods. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs; however, it is also found in some of the foods you eat. High blood cholesterol is a condition in which you have too much cholesterol in your blood. By itself, the condition usually has no signs or symptoms and so many people don’t know that their cholesterol levels are too high. People who have a high blood cholesterol have a greater chance of getting coronary heart disease.
A cholesterol test is a blood sample which will provide a full “lipid profile”. In other words, it will measure the levels of all the different blood fats: total cholesterol, LDL- cholesterol, HDL- cholesterol, and triglyceride concentration.
Cholesterol travels through your blood stream in small packages called lipoproteins. There are two kinds: Low-density Lipoproteins (LDL) and High-density Lipoproteins (HDL):
LDL is sometimes called the “bad” cholesterol. A high level leads to a build-up of cholesterol in your arteries. The higher the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood, the GREATER your chance is of getting heart disease.
HDL is sometimes called the “good” cholesterol. This is because it carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to the liver where it is removed. The higher the level of HDL cholesterol in your blood, the LOWER your chance is of getting heart disease.
You can find more information on cholesterol and what you can do to keep your heart healthy at the Heart UK website.
Don't Forget! Wellbeing Survey - complete by 15 September
Thank you to those who have already completed the wellbeing survey. If you haven’t yet completed it, we would would really appreciate if you could take a few minutes to do this before 15 September.
Your views will help to improve our Wellbeing Wednesday, but also to inform the other wellbeing initiatives that the team work on – from reviewing and revising policies and procedures to supporting employees and managers with wellbeing related matters.
You can access the survey here.
Please also let us know your thoughts and ideas about the items featured in our Wellbeing Wednesdays each week and send us your suggestions for future topics – we love to hear from you.
The Wellbeing Team: firstname.lastname@example.org