I recently read a very troubling sentence:
Suicide rates [in Wales] continue to be much higher for males than for females, with the highest age-specific rates seen in males aged between 30 and 49 years. Rates are higher in more deprived communities, particularly in males.
The above extract was part of a blog post written by the National Assembly for Wales Research Service, on the topic of suicide prevention and the progress that’s been made in tackling the issue of suicide in Wales.
The reason this finding concerned me is because it describes most of our clients. The people we work with, in our residential projects and on the streets, are mostly males in this age bracket. You can easily see this if you look at our quarterly rough sleeping reports.
What’s more, some of communities from which our clients come, could be described as ‘deprived’.
It’s no surprise, then, that The Wallich takes this issue seriously. That’s why we’re introducing a new project, The Reflections Network, in which we will be working to prevent suicide and self-harm among our clients. As well as this, we want to improve mental health as much as we can in the communities we support.
We’ve called the project The Reflections Network because we didn’t want it to be overly clinical, medical, or daunting. It’s a programme of client-led counselling and psychotherapy, based on the experience we’ve developed over years of working with people who are homeless.
We are hoping that by providing sessions – drawing on thoroughly researched and proven approaches (such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) – we can have a positive impact on the mental health of our clients. This will affect their lives more broadly: reducing substance misuse, for example.
Our statistics, as well as those published by other organisations show that people experiencing homelessness are more likely to suffer from mental health issues. We’ll be working with service users across Wales to improve this situation – and although statistics show which demographic groups are more likely to be dealing with issues like these, we will of course be working with anybody who needs support.
Not only will we be running these counselling sessions, but we will continue our rollout of Psychologically-Informed Environments across our organisation. This means that all the environments in which we work with clients will be designed with their recovery in mind. This fits with the trauma-informed approach we adopt in all the work we do.
We’ve worked hard to ensure that The Reflections Network aligns with the Talk To Me 2 strategy, which is what the Assembly’s blog post discusses progress towards.
Talk To Me 2 goes beyond working with individuals, from trying to influence the responsible reporting of suicide in the media, to improving awareness among communities of mental health issues and potential treatment.
The Reflections Network launches soon and will be delivered by various The Wallich staff; including medical professionals who are experts in this area. We’ll be providing updates as it develops.
We’re confident we can make a real difference to the lives of people in Wales who are dealing with mental health issues or thinking about suicide.
If you are worried about suicide, call the Samaritans on 116 123, or on their Welsh language line: 0808 164 0123.
This NHS page also has a list of ‘sources of help’, towards the bottom.
If you’re interested in suicide prevention and intervention training, the Jacob Abraham Foundation is a good place to start.