West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership launch staff suicide prevention initiative

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership (WY&H HCP) has launched an innovative staff suicide prevention campaign targeted at more than 100,000 health, care, voluntary and community service colleagues working in organisations large and small across the area.

Launching on the 4 February ‘Time to Talk’ day, the campaign aims to get people in the workplace talking about mental health to prevent the risk of suicide.

Preventing suicide in targeted areas by 2022 is one of WY&H HCP’s 10 big ambitions. National figures published by the Office of National Statistics on 1 September 2020 show that Yorkshire and the Humber region had the highest suicide rate in England at 12 suicides per 100,000 population over a three year period between 2017 and 2019. In West Yorkshire and Harrogate, there was an increase from 10.6 per 100,000 between 2016-18 to 11.9 between 2017 and 2019.

WY&H HCP’s ‘Check-in’ campaign aims to prevent staff suicide and promote a wellbeing culture by normalising the conversation around suicide and mental health as well as providing training, including links to credible sources such as the Zero Suicide Alliance, and signposting to support in and out the workplace.

The campaign, co-produced with people who have direct experience of suicide, has been created by staff coming together from NHS services, councils, Healthwatch and community groups, including the Samaritans and Platform 1 in Huddersfield.

WY&H HCP has secured funding from NHS England/NHS Improvement to the end of March 2022 of more than £1million to develop and maintain a Mental Health and Wellbeing Hub for all staff working in health and care services in West Yorkshire and Harrogate. The campaign will link to this important support.

Rob Webster, CEO Lead for WY&H HCP said: ‘While people at risk of suicide may try to hide how they are feeling, they often give out warning signs, when at work. You might notice changes in their behaviour or be aware of events in their life that could be affecting them. Many of us may be unsure what to say, or how to approach the situation. By knowing what to look for, having the skills and confidence to have a conversation and provide support, you can make a huge difference to someone’s life. I’m urging everyone to get involved so they know the signs and how to respond by doing the online training provided at www.zerosuicidealliance.com’

Dr Sara Munro, CEO for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and CEO Lead for WY&H HCP Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Autism Programme said: ‘We hope that this vital initiative will help normalise the conversation and increase confidence so suicide and mental health can be discussed, without stigma or judgement, as part of everyday workplace conversation. The Partnership is establishing a staff mental health wellbeing hub which will complement local help whilst bringing together many different sources of support, and suicide prevention is integral to that work’.

Professor Brendan Brown, CEO for Airedale NHS Foundation Trust and CEO Lead for West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership Workforce Programme said: ‘Whether front-line, office, service or community, neighbourhood based, we all work incredibly hard to provide care and support to our communities, and this can take its toll. This campaign will help us work together to create a culture in which we acknowledge ourselves as people who also need care and support – where looking after ourselves and our colleagues is seen as a vital part of our role and responsibility in order to continue to provide the best health and care for everyone across West Yorkshire and Harrogate’.

Cllr Tim Swift, Chair of WY&H Partnership Board and Leader of Calderdale Council, said: ‘I’m delighted that over 140 organisations across West Yorkshire and Harrogate have signed up to this important campaign, including community led groups, Healthwatch, councils and hospitals. By spotting the signs in both our work and personal lives we can all prevent suicide and support one another better to have good mental health’.

Open to all, you can join the campaign now at https://bit.ly/2Nh0wfr or find out more about this important work at staffcheck-in.co.uk/toolkit from the 4 February 2021.