Image: The Clear Project team get ready to welcome participants at the Omagh Enterprise Agency

Following our Clear Forum Reach, Remit, Referral event at the Omagh Enterprise Centre on Tuesday 5 March we’ve been thinking about all the important points made by our speakers.  

Mental health, emotional well-being and suicide prevention have been discussed in so many Clear Project training sessions over the years. With the recent review of actions within the Protect Life 2 Strategy (the Department of Health’s suicide prevention strategy) these important discussions are happening more frequently. Many of you may have been wondering: ‘Where can I go for help?” “What can I expect to receive?” “How can I be referred into the service?” “Can I use the service to help me support others?”  

Fifty-three people from a variety of community, voluntary and statutory organisations participated in the event and heard three key take away messages:   

  • Help and support is available right now if you need it.  
  • Suicide prevention is everyone’s business.  
  • Support for younger people needs to be enhanced.  

On the day participants heard from many speakers working in the field of mental health and suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. We showed videos which highlighted services provided, service user experience and projects funded under the PHA Making Life Better through Short Term Funding. The services alongside geographical coverage and pathways for referrals were explained in detail.  

But that’s not all. Here are a few summary points from each of our brilliant speakers: 

  • Lifeline – Mark McKernohan from Lifeline highlighted that the Lifeline helpline (0808 808 8000) is manned 24 hrs a day 7 days a week by trained counsellors. Where appropriate, counselling can be offered to those using the service. There are multiple referral pathways – self-refer, 3rd party referral: family & friends; Information and guidance is also available for 3rd party professionals, and family & friends.  

  • Self-Harm Intervention Programme (SHIP) – Conor McCafferty from Zest NI advised that SHIP is not a crisis service. The aim is to prevent / reduce further episodes of self-harm and develop coping strategies. Zest NI deliver this service in Western and Northern Trust areas. Only mental health services can refer to SHIP, this includes mental health practitioners in GP practices. Psychological support is provided to clients who receive an average of 5-6 sessions. Psycho-education and support is also available for families / carers. NI HSC Interpreting Service can be used, if required.  

  • AWARE services – Stephen McCrudden from AWARE NI summarised services which include mental health support groups, information, outreach and raising awareness, education and training / wellbeing programmes, interactive website and mindfulness programmes. They target schools, community groups and workplaces across Northern Ireland. We viewed a video on what a service user can expect for attending a support group.  Notably, over 17,000 people have attended training. 

  • Clear Project training and funding– The Clear Project provide a range of evidence-based mental health, emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention training free of charge to community & voluntary groups in Western Trust area. Book through and read more about the training delivered last year and the difference it has made to individuals in our Training Report. The Clear Project also administer the Making Life Better through Short Term Funding on behalf of the PHA. Funding of up to £5,000 is available in-year for community & voluntary groups. A number of videos highlighting the type of activity funded were shown at the event and full details of all projects are available on the DHC website. Sports coaches funding of up to £500 for sports equipment was also highlighted.  

  • Northern Ireland Registry of Self-Harm and Sudden Death 1 (SD1) process – Kathy Owens from the Public Health Agency outlined the SD1 process, which has been operational since 2012. SD1 forms are completed by PSNI, reviewed by PHA and monitored by Health Trusts.  The purpose of the SD1 process is to ensure support is offered to those bereaved or affected by a death suspected as suicide and identify any potential trends or clusters of suspected suicides. Data for the self-harm registry is collected from Emergency Departments and the 2021/2022 data will be published shortly which means there will now be 10 years of data. This will help identify trends and inform service planning. Further information on the help and support are available can be found at 

  • Adult Mental Health Bereaved by Suicide Service – Fidelis Simpson from Western Health and Social Care Trust provided guidance on the services available for families and those bereaved by suicide within the past two years. This includes practical support and guidance, short-term support follow-up support, reading material and referral to statutory and/or voluntary helping services. Bereaved family members are also invited to join local support groups and the annual tree of lights ceremony. If families don’t take up the offer of initial support, they will be followed-up after six months. Referral pathway includes SD1/PSNI, self-refer, GP referral, statutory services and community/voluntary services. 

  • ComKit – Mark Gibney from Family Voices Forum gave a demonstration on the online ComKit, which is an empathic communication toolkit to be used at a time of heightened suicide concerns. The aim of the toolkit is to help you better understand every step, how to remember a loved one and how to support those in need. Videos include guidance on memorials and gatherings, language and social media. Further information provides helps and direction to the correct source of support. England has a similar action in their recently published Suicide Prevention Strategy and are looking at the ComKit as a model of good practice.  DHC and the Public Health Agency are keen to hear about examples of the ComKit being used.