Residents across Preston are being encouraged to keep talking throughout COVID-19 as part of Lancashire and South Cumbria’s suicide prevention campaign.Advertisement
The first phase of the Let’s Keep Talking campaign saw more people than ever reaching out to local and national services for help, but the local health and care partnership are concerned people’s mental health will continue to be adversely affected as times are still uncertain.
Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) have refreshed materials including posters, leaflets and social media images with updated messaging to reflect the ‘new normal.’
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The main audiences are young people and older teenagers, parents who are juggling home working and limited childcare, men who have been furloughed, made redundant or who are self-employed and older and vulnerable people getting used to the new normal.
ICS Mental Health Deputy Director, Paul Hopley, said: “We know that lots of people struggled with lockdown, and life may still be difficult as we return to a normal.
“It’s vitally important that people have sufficient emotional support and reach out to their friends and family. If that’s not possible they need to know that there are many organisations out there ready to offer them a listening ear.”
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Rise and Shine Lancashire, the community mental health service in Preston, believes that this campaign for good mental health is a positive thing.
They believe that everyone should be able to reach out for help if they feel like they’re at crisis point, or suicidal.
Rachel Pearson from Rise and Shine Lancashire said: “Suicide is still such a heavily stigmatised word, one that people don’t want to think about, but it’s a sad reality that many people are driven to end their lives because they feel there’s no way forward.
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“We need to get to a point where it is no longer difficult to call for help and say ‘I’m suicidal’, and this campaign is a step in the right direction. COVID-19 has impacted so many people’s mental health – people who already had mental health problems, but also people who thought they were mentally healthy.
“More and more resources are needed to cope with the increased demand so if LSC NHS are able to say, ‘hey, we can give you those extra people to listen to you’, then I applaud them.”
Rise and Shine Lancashire is currently working on a virtual group meeting schedule only due to coronavirus, but they are hopeful for face to face meetings soon.
They have four virtual meetings a week, and are able to offer support constantly over their WhatsApp group. They are also hoping to open a postal service soon.
Preston-based Menhear CIC want to break the stigma surrounding mental health for men.
William Killeen from Menhear noticed that poor mental health and suicide is at a all-time high due to coronavirus.
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He said: “My group referrals are treble what they were before COVID-19. These referrals are not from other organisations, they’re coming from other family members like mothers, sisters and wives.
“These people are actively getting in touch about their husbands, sons and brothers, because their relations feel that they can’t go on.
“A lot feel like they have nowhere to turn, as the mental health waiting list is so long. Just this week I had four guys sign up that wanted to end their own lives because they felt they could not carry on.”
Currently, Menhear runs two online support groups a week over Zoom. They are well attended by men from all over Lancashire.
They have also started their gardening project again after lockdown, which is held three times a week – it is a great way for some of the men to socialise.
Users of the services are missing the physical peer led support groups, and the fact they don’t have an outlet impacts them in a huge way, so the campaign is important to raise awareness.
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Will you be backing this campaign? Let us know in the comments below.