Our World Suicide Awareness Day event was a brilliant success drawing our biggest audience to date, with 160 people attending to raise awareness and educate themselves about a very emotive and, unfortunately, still taboo subject. We screened documentary film “Steve” and had the honour of having Director, Ben Akers, and a very experienced panel to help with any questions raised on the night.
One of the main messages from the evening was the importance of talking and listening and what we can do as individuals to support each other. If we are able to open up the conversation, then we can and will stop issues escalating to a potentially tragic level.
So, what can we do to help each other? Firstly be aware. Have you noticed changes in the behaviour patterns of a friend, colleague, family member or acquaintance? If so, then it is important to ask about their wellbeing. It is easy to brush-off a quick “are you ok?” but if you are concerned enough to ask, then please be persistent. Ask again, tell them what you have noticed- are they more withdrawn than usual, not eating properly, not gaining enjoyment from their usual hobbies. That can be enough to start a conversation and allow the person to breathe a sigh of relief and open up about what is really going on. It is not always easy but a direct question is the best kind and can stop things escalating. Day-to-day life stresses can easily build-up and being able to talk can take the pressure off.
Country-wide there is now a movement to set-up talking groups for men and we are fully behind such programmes. Director, Ben Akers, has spearheaded one of these groups. “My mission was to save one life- to stop the next Steve. To help the next Steve. The film has sparked the creation of Talk Club where nearly 800 men are all talking regularly on Facebook about their mental fitness. We currently have 13 physical groups with more being set up weekly. To me the importance is knowing that our mental fitness is like our physical fitness. We need to work at it to stay fit. And Talk Club is like going for a run. And a counsellor is like a Personal Trainer – if you want to get fit, to take it seriously you get someone to help you”.
West Kent Mind would like to appeal to our readers. Are you inspired to set-up a group locally to us? Do you have a quiet space, where men would feel comfortable talking and could host a regular club (weekly, fortnightly), then please get in touch. Perhaps we could use a local sports club, somewhere where many of the target audience may already feel at ease. We would love to support you in getting this off of the ground, to give you pointers, tips and provide a structure to sessions. Whether this comes under the Talk Club banner or is something more personal to you (see www.andysmanclub.co.uk – growing group set-up in the memory of the founder’s friend), then we can help and guide you.
While our event focused on male suicide, the biggest killer of men in the UK and accounting for three quarters of all suicides, we were also reminded by our panellist, Priya Nagda-Swanson from PAPYRUS, (www.papyrus.org.uk) “don’t forget about the girls”. With recent ONS data reminding us that women, and particularly young women, are self-injuring and ending their own lives in increasing numbers. We are a charity for everyone in need and so, if you have an idea around a similar club for women in the area, then we would love to hear from you too.
Another message from the night was that there is help out there. Tim Woodhouse, Kent and Medway STP Suicide Prevention Programme Manager says “We know that talking really helps, whether it’s to friends, family, a charity like West Kent Mind or an anonymous helpline. It won’t solve everything instantly but it is the beginning of a process that can help you get things straight.”
Tim helped spearhead the Release the Pressure campaign (www.releasethepressure.uk/0800 107 0160), a phone line and webchat service available 24/7, 365 days a year and manned by trained counsellors. These counsellors are linked in to all support services in Kent and Medway and are there to listen. This is a valuable and underutilised resource that we should all be using and signposting to.
Until next month, ask that question, connect with each other and keep talking. It will make a difference.
Upcoming events and courses
• Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Adult 2 Day course (Certified) – £155
30th September and 2nd October – Sevenoaks
7th and 8th November – Sevenoaks
16th and 20th November – Sevenoaks
• MHFA Youth 2 Day course (certified) – £120
9th and 11th October – Sevenoaks
More details and Registration link: westkentmind.org.uk/training/mhfa
• Mental Health Awareness Day – 10th
October 2019 – 9.30am-12noon, Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells – £55
We have developed a bespoke 2.5 hour “Address Your Stress” Workshop for
organisations. The workshop is entitled “Address Your Stress” and will be broken down into four sections: understanding stress, listening skills, patterns of behaviour and practical mindfulness.
The 2.5 hours will include time for a coffee break and will be facilitated by two West Kent Mind staff. The cost of this workshop is £55/person. Please register and book your place here: www.westkentmind.org.uk/address-your-stress
• 24 September: Understanding Stress 3 hour workshop
• 4 November: Six week Introduction to Mindfulness course begins
• 6 November: Six week Further Counselling Skills begins
• 26 November: Listening Skills 2 hour Workshop
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