Half A Million People Complete Suicide Prevention Training In Lockdown
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Half a million people have completed an online suicide prevention training course in lockdown.
The Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) said 503,000 people completed the course in the space of three weeks, meaning more than one million people have now accessed the course since its launch in 2017.
The surge comes as we begin arguably the most pertinent Mental Health Awareness Week ever, with experts warning that the Covid-19 pandemic could have a lasting impact on the mental health of all of us - especially front-line healthcare workers and those in lockdown on their own.
The Department of Health agreed funding with the ZSA last year, with reaching the million milestone one of several targets set as part of the contract.
Joe Rafferty, CBE, chairman of the ZSA, said: "We probably won't know the true impact of the last few weeks and months on society until it's all over, but we do know the stress and worry of the coronavirus is bound to have impacted people's mental health.
"Suicide is a serious public health issue and every single death by suicide devastates families, friends and communities. We know suicide isn't inevitable and can be preventable, which is why reaching such an incredible landmark is a fantastic achievement and means a million people have now accessed the skills to help those who may be struggling."
The course takes about 20 minutes and walks you through how you might be able to help someone considering suicide by tackling stigma and promoting open communication. There is also a shorter five to 10 minute introductory module. You can access them both here.
Despite a heightened awareness of the importance of safeguarding each other's mental health, charity Mind found that over a two-week period almost a quarter of people who tried to access mental health support had failed to get any help.
The charity surveyed 8,200 people and found almost one in four had failed to get the support they sought, be it due to cancelled appointments, difficulty getting through to their GP or Community Mental Health Team, being turned away by crisis services or issues accessing digital alternatives.
Responding to the findings, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: "As a nation, a vast number of us have seen our mental health deteriorate during the coronavirus crisis. It is therefore deeply concerning that people are struggling to get the help that they urgently need. Evidence shows that when people do not get support early enough, they end up in crisis.
"People with mental health problems have been hit hard by the current situation. We are particularly worried that some people are being discharged too early from hospital, while others have been left languishing on mental health wards, because of the current limited the availability of community support. Being sent home at the wrong time can delay recovery and, at worst, puts people at high risk of suicide."
The findings come as a global group of 42 researchers have come together to form the International COVID-19 Suicide Prevention Research Collaboration, which asserts that suicide during the pandemic is not an inevitability if immediate and decisive preventative steps are taken.
Writing in The Lancet Psychiatry, the collective said: "Suicide is likely to become a more pressing concern as the pandemic spreads and has longer-term effects on the general population, the economy and vulnerable groups.
"Preventing suicide therefore needs urgent consideration. The response must capitalise on, but extend beyond, general mental health policies and practices."
Responding to Mind's findings, an NHS spokesperson told LADbible that the Government had invested an additional £5m ($6.09) to support mental health charities.
He added: "Across the NHS, staff are working tirelessly to tackle the biggest global health threat in a century. In these difficult times, looking after people's mental health is more important than ever.
"All of our mental health services for both adults and children are still available, with many offering more flexible options such as video and phone consultations to improve safety for patients and staff alike. If you need support with your mental health, you can still access existing services or speak to your GP about your needs.
"If you have urgent mental health needs and need to access support now, please visit NHS UK's urgent mental health page to find local options for support."
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MIND: 0300 123 3393.
Samaritans: 116 123.
CALM: Outside London 0808 802 5858, inside London 0800 58 58 58.