Over 1.3 million households across the North East and North Cumbria will soon receive a booklet, developed by mental health specialists, offering advice to help those struggling to cope with the current health crisis.
During these difficult and stressful times, it is crucial that people receive the help they need to stay safe and to manage their mental health and wellbeing. By working in collaboration with regional partners the North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network has developed a booklet, endorsed by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, to provide information and support for people who may be struggling to cope with changing circumstances and social isolation.
The Suicide Prevention Network recently launched a new website (www.stopsuicidenenc.org) to provide help and advice about mental wellbeing, support for people experiencing suicidal thoughts, and guidance for those sadly bereaved by suicide. The website provides access to a wealth of professional resources to help people working in services and the wider community.
However, it is vital that key advice and information is easily accessible to the most vulnerable members of our communities, including those who may not have access to information on the internet. The Suicide Prevention Network has therefore commissioned Every Life Matters Cumbria, a suicide prevention charity, to produce a detailed booklet containing practical information which will be helpful for everyone, and particularly for people who are finding the current crisis difficult and feel isolated.
The Every Life Matters booklet contains self-help information and advice for managing mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as advice on how to support others. The booklet, which also includes signposting for advice or urgent support, is currently being distributed to homes across the region, supported by a social media campaign based on this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme of “kindness”.
Katherine McGleenan, North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Lead, explained, “I have worked as a mental health nurse for over 30 years and have seen the devastating impact poor mental health can have on people’s lives. I have also seen how, with the right support, people can become mentally well again, even in difficult circumstances. We want people to know there is support available and to know how to access help if needed, and that they don’t need to cope alone.”
John Lawlor, Chief Executive of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, added, “It is essential we make easily accessible information available to people who may be finding social isolation difficult. I am confident the Every Life Matters booklet will be a valuable tool for many people needing support to stay mentally safe and well, during the current circumstances and beyond. It will enable and encourage individuals, families, friends, and local communities to take care of themselves, and look out for each other.”
Chris Wood, of the Every Life Matters charity which produced the booklet, said, “COVID-19 presents some big challenges to people’s mental health and wellbeing. Many of our coping mechanisms, and activities that underpin our wellbeing, are no longer available and we need to be more thoughtful and creative about how we manage our stress, anxieties and mental health generally. We have written this booklet to give people practical information and guidance on what we can all do to cope emotionally during the crisis.”
Niall, a 22-year-old man who lives in the region and has been furloughed from his job due to the pandemic, commented, “I really like it. It’s very clear and straightforward and has a lot of useful information. If you take a look it is really accessible and has so many great resources. It has advice on loads of different subjects and has a very friendly feel to it.”
A local retired GP, who offered their feedback on how the booklet could help vulnerable people in their community, added, “You can access information online, but often a physical copy just sitting there can be dipped into and may be more easily accessible than a link someone might have sent in amongst other messages. Someone might read the booklet while having a coffee and know there is help out there and someone cares about them by sending the booklet.”
One of our Peer Supporters, Lauren, also gave her take on how the booklet will help people like her and those she supports.