The Belfast Mental Health Rights Group was one of the first groups PPR worked with, and have been together since 2006. Their members have personal or family experience of mental health issues and suicide/self harm. The group led a successful campaign for a ‘Card Before You Leave’ (CBYL) appointments system for mental health patients to ensure those in mental health crisis left Accident and Emergency Departments with a card  bearing the date of their next appointment. This change was put in place across Northern Ireland.

Since 2013, PPR’s work on mental health has grown across Northern Ireland, and we now also work with groups with direct experience of mental health services in Draperstown and Cookstown.

At present GPs are not required to undertake any recognised, accredited suicide prevention training. The evaluation of the first Suicide Prevention strategy recognised the need to address this in the Protect Life 2 strategy. However, a target of 50% of GPs trained is not enough - it needs to be all GPs who receive this training to ensure that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need. The #123GP is calling for 100% of GPs to be trained in suicide prevention.

Mental health campaigners have received strong support from the Royal College of GPs NI for their #123GP campaign for better mental health care from GPs

Member groups involved in the #123GP campaign for better mental health expertise among GPs held a campaign workshop in Draperstown on 14 October 2017. The workshop, attended by over 30 people from 7 different member groups, was hosted by STEPS, one of the member groups.  Lynda McEldowney from STEPS reflects on the behind the scenes work involved in making the day a success, as well as the benefits of groups coming together to campaign collectively.

World Mental Health Day, observed on the 10th October every year, presents an opportune moment to consider the United Nations’ current assessment of the core challenges and opportunities for advancing the realisation of the right to mental health for everyone in Northern Ireland and across the globe.

The increased vulnerability of those bereaved by suicide to mental health illness is well known.

The Executive’s own suicide prevention strategy states that families and friends bereaved by suicide are at a greater risk of depression and future suicidal behaviour, requiring specific supportive measures and targeted treatment to cope with their loss.

Members of the Mental Health Rights Network dodged the summer downpours to attend a talk by the Coroner, Mr. Joe McCrisken, on the Dangers of Prescription Drugs. The talk was held in St. Mary’s College,  Belfast on Friday 11 August 2017 as part of the West Belfast ‘Féile’ festival.

People who are close to someone, who has taken their own life, can be 3 times more at risk of attempting suicide. Recognising this, our government puts access to support for those bereaved by suicide as a core component of their suicide prevention strategy.

The campaign by the Square Cut Punt Crew to have the Divis/Westlink Bridge railings heightened as a suicide prevention measure has advanced over recent months. 

“we all have the same issues but if we are one big voice shouting it will get heard a lot quicker”  Karen McGuigan, STEPS

L-R Colleen & Annie from Reaching Out Support Group with Claire McKeown Equality Commission NI

Annie and Colleen from the Reaching Out Action Support Group in conversation with PPR

(Photograph L-R Colleen & Annie from Reaching Out Support Group with Claire McKeown Equality Commission NI)

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