Check on those around you this World Mental Health Day (10 October) urge Lisa Fathers, Director of The Alliance for Learning Teaching School and National MHFA trainer and Professor Sandeep Ranote, Children and Young People’s Mental health Lead at The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and Medical Director at North West Boroughs Health Care NHS Foundation Trust
Every 40 seconds, one person will die by suicide,1 so this World Mental Health Day, we are urging everyone to check in on those you know or love, to show you care.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year-olds2 meaning those of us who work in an education setting or with any children or young people, have a huge opportunity in reducing and even preventing this.
Just by listening and being alert to what are often subtle warning signs, we can provide help early on, working alongside young people and their carers to stop a potentially life-threatening situation. We can also help individuals develop greater resilience by offering simple, yet effective strategies that can be adopted to help manage their health and wellbeing positively. These can have far-reaching effects in later life, helping young people to manage whatever life throws at them.
Our work with the Greater Manchester Mentally Healthy Schools and Colleges Programme has brought the education and health sectors closer together through collaborative working with charities. Through the project – a partnership between Greater Manchester Health and Social Care partnership http://www.gmhsc.org.uk/successful-mental-health-programme-for-greater-manchester-schools-and-colleges-doubles-in-size/, Alliance for Learning Teaching School http://allianceforlearning.co.uk/, Place2Be https://www.place2be.org.uk, 42nd Street http://42ndstreet.org.uk/ and Youth Sport Trust https://www.youthsporttrust.org/– we have seen that Mental Health First Aid training has been a crucial element to giving teachers and support staff the vital skills to spot signs and intervene early. Whilst it doesn’t make people therapists it teaches them to listen and reassure and importantly reduces the stigma that so often still exists around mental health and mental illness. Think of it as first aid for our minds!
The importance of having young mental health champions, who actively look out for their peers, raises awareness of important topics such as self-harm and suicide and enables them to also take responsibility for their own wellbeing. It is empowering and has long-lasting effects.
One young mental health champion who reluctantly took part in the project, was able to discuss his own suicidal thoughts, opening-up about why he blamed himself for the way he felt. Through his involvement as a champion he has made many positive changes to his life and now wants to inspire others to get involved with sport to explore the benefits of exercise. He’s also had the confidence to share his experiences with a room full of 60 people, many of whom were strangers as an ambassador for the programme.
World Mental Health Day is an opportunity for us all to have a conversation about how we ourselves or other people may be feeling. We need to start talking about mental and physical health as one rather than two separate entities and continue to break down the barriers.
Mental health is a complex topic but anyone who suspects that someone may be struggling can get help from a number of organisations including the Samaritans <https://www.samaritans.org/support-us/campaign/world-suicide-prevention-day/> who also offer guidance on how to start a conversation.
In Greater Manchester around 200 people take their own life each year, Shining a Light on Suicide <http://www.shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk/> is aiming to change that, opening up the discussion about suicide, as silence helps suicidal thoughts to grow.
If you are worried about someone, look out for some of the warning signs below:
– they may be talking or writing about suicide
– withdrawing from social contact
– changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
– personality changes or mood swings
You can also help by:
– addressing depression or anxiety. Ask what’s wrong and offer help
– paying attention, listen carefully to what the person is saying
– discouraging isolation – encourage spending time with supportive friends and family
– encourage a healthy lifestyle – exercise, diet and getting enough sleep are important
– if you are concerned, speak to a health professional who is trained in the area of mental health
For more information you can also visit:
Heads Together www.headstogether.org.uk <https://www.headstogether.org.uk/support/>
Mind, www.mind.org.uk <https://www.mind.org.uk/> , 0300 123 3393
Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org <https://www.papyrus-uk.org/> , 0800 068 41 41
Samaritans, www.samaritans.org <https://www.samaritans.org/> , 116 123
Suicide Let’s talk – Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust – Do your bit ….
1 The World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/
2 Shining a Light on Suicide http://www.shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk/toolkit/