World Mental Health Day takes place on Thursday 10 October and this year has a theme of suicide prevention. Gloucestershire Suicide Prevention Partnership (GSPP) and Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust are working together to raise awareness of suicide prevention, and the support available to people in Gloucestershire.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 800,000 people die by suicide a year, making it the principal cause of death among people aged 15-29. In England, there are 4,500 suicides every year, and around 13 people die by suicide every day. It is the leading cause of death in men under 50.
GSPP recently launched an incentive to encourage as many people as possible to complete online suicide prevention training from Zero Suicide Alliance. The free training, “Suicide – Let’s Talk”, is open to everyone and takes around 20 minutes to complete. Once completed, you can claim a free drink and cake or healthy snack from community cafés across the county. The aim is to help as many people as possible in the county to be able to identify when someone is having suicidal thoughts or showing suicidal behaviour, to help them to speak out in a supportive way, and to feel able to point the person towards to the correct services or support.
Cllr Tim Harman, cabinet member for public health and communities at Gloucestershire County Council, said “World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for us to raise awareness of mental health issues, and fight the stigma that prevents many people from seeking the help they need.
“We can all help to reduce the number of suicides in Gloucestershire by being alert to the signs, and encouraging people to talk to someone and reach out for support.”
John Trevains, Director of Nursing, Therapies and Quality, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Helping and supporting people who are struggling or at risk of suicide isn’t limited to those who work in professional health services; we all have a role to play in preventing suicide.
“One of the most important things you can do if you are concerned about someone is start a conversation with them. Ask them how they are and really listen to their answer. Sometimes, people will answer automatically that they are fine, so be prepared to ask them again.
“We want people to know that it’s okay to talk about suicide. It will not make it more likely that someone will die by suicide and may, in fact, have the opposite effect.
“If your friend, loved one or colleague is distressed, it’s okay to encourage them to reach out for support, either from the GP or from other appropriate organisations.
“If you know someone who has been bereaved by suicide, make sure you keep talking to them and support them, as they can be at greater risk of taking their own lives.”
One useful resource for anyone at risk of suicide is the Stay Alive app, which is packed full of useful information to help people stay safe in a crisis. Anyone having thoughts of suicide, or who is concerned about someone who may be considering suicide could use the app, which can be accessed through the Apple Store, Google Play and downloaded as a pdf.
Both organisations are also supporting Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters campaign, which launched this week, and is a way of empowering people to manage and improve their mental health, and support others in doing the same.
Every Mind Matters shows people the simple steps they can take to be better prepared for life’s ups and downs. The new platform, which has been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RGCP), will enable people to create a personalised action plan recommending a set of self-care actions to deal with stress, boost mood, improve sleep and feel in control.
This new resource is available for the public and for GPs to advise their patients to use. The NHS will also promote Every Mind Matters to its one-million plus workforce. To discover simple steps for a healthier mind, create your bespoke action plan at: www.everymindmatters.co.uk
There are a number of local events taking place to mark World Mental Health Day.
- Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Social Inclusion Team and the team from Gloucester Cathedral will be on the CCG Information Bus outside Gloucester Cathedral on 10 October, from 10am-3pm. There will be the opportunity to people to come and share the things they do that help them to feel good, as well as find out information about local services and support that is available.
- Thursday 10 October is also World Homeless Day, so the Trust will be attending a networking event at Kingsholm Stadium from 2-4.30pm, hosted by Gloucester City Mission and Gloucester Rugby.
- GHC will have a stand in Tewkesbury Hospital from 10am-12pm, with information about mental health and wellbeing, and the opportunity to join the Trust as a member.
- The social inclusion team are promoting the #AskTwice campaign to staff, service users and carers in reception at Benet Building.