We aim to steer the preventative flagship rather than just dealing with the aftermath of trauma and distress by providing affordable therapeutic services. Working towards a Better Well-Being and ‘Better Outcomes.’
We empower the people that use our services to be at the helm of their support, aiming to improve outcomes for Individuals in particular those most marginalised and People of Colour coming from impoverished communities. Identifying those who may have been exposed to past poor experiences of mental health support experiencing issues of intersectionality, we feel that we address the community deficit of mental health support for those that need it most, and we alleviate some of the progression of mental health by filling the void left by statutory services such as NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and CAMHS, who struggle to meet waiting lists and get help to communities early on.
We access the community at a grass roots level and can help those who may steer away from statutory services to make more positive life impacting decisions. We hope to continue this by helping to mitigate the potential impact of future suicides, and long lasting effects of Covid-19.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
We deliver a number of products such as Mental Health First Aid both the adult and youth courses which explore suicide as a topic in detail, we also deliver the stand alone product of Suicide First Aid Understanding Intervention and Lite products, to educate both locally and on an international level about suicide.
We work with local groups and sit on panels within the community to focus on mental health and suicide prevention. These include the West Midlands Police scrutiny panels, the Police & Crime Commissioners Office stop and search/use of force scrutiny panels.
We are also currently engaging with the Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust around capacity building, and their goals to work with community organisations to address the revolving door issues they continue to face that disproportionately impact the quality of life for people of colour. These issues are particularly important for men and indeed black men who are more likely to enter the mental health system via the police or criminal justice system and are at a higher risk of suicide.
We also sit on a panel with The Birmingham’s Children’s Trust safeguarding team Empower Hub to address community issues that impact mental health and can lead to suicide. We work in a trauma informed way and deliver workshops and training on a number of issues that impact mental health but most importantly, we address stigma and create safe spaces for people to talk about suicide and help them recognise the signs and life issues that can impact someone. We use a holistic approach to address the issues that may impact someone’s suicidal ideation, which may lead to harming behaviour or ending their life by suicide.
What are your current priorities?
Educating and delivering training to raise insight and breakdown the barrier of stigma within our community where mental health is concerned. To continue to address the issues that may lead to someone ending their life by suicide, historically we have run projects around food parcels at Christmas, we just finished an energy project where we educated people about energy saving and provided advocacy which enabled us to apply for Personal Independence Payment for one of our clients. This financial adjustment helped them to have a better quality of life and also helped to reduce the levels of anxiety and intensity of symptoms they experienced as a result.
Continuing that holistic service, we currently have a volunteer project and a youth counsellor based in a local school, supporting young people with their mental health. Most assessments had been previously refused by statutory services as they were deemed not sick enoough, and we support these young people with self-harm ideation and the self harming behaviour being used as coping strategies amongst other issues. Growing this project is a key aim and delivering MHAF Youth to the full staff team is a priority moving forward.
What challenges are you currently facing?
Statutory services not accepting referrals from schools increases the case load for our teams, and funding is not always consistent. Schools often cannot afford our services so we tend to offer special rates and volunteer a number of hours. Communities do not always recognise the mental health signs that can move people along the continuum from having suicidal thoughts to actually attempting or ending their life by suicide. We experience that communities tend to approach for training at crisis point rather than before mental health deteriorates significantly and chances of recovery are higher. This needs to change as the outcomes for recovery are always better the earlier support is given.