Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People Mr. Jim Daly TD, today (Wednesday July 26th) officially launched “Connecting for Life Cork” – a new suicide and self harm prevention plan for Cork.
The launch took place at Millennium Hall, Cork City Hall and was attended by a large number of those involved in the drafting of the plan, including community and voluntary groups and members of the public from across Cork.
The four-year plan runs from 2017 to 2020 inclusive, and its vision is a Cork where fewer lives are lost through suicide, and where communities and individuals are empowered to improve their mental health and wellbeing. The development of Connecting for Life Cork included extensive county-wide consultation with the public, community and voluntary organisations, public bodies and with health care professionals.
A total of 356 people took part in public meetings, with 700 comments and suggestions captured. As well as that, 50 people and 69 services responded to online surveys and another 40 people attended a separate youth consultation at City Hall, facilitated by ReachOut.com. Meetings were also held with individuals and key groups directly affected by suicide. This extensive feedback then formed the basis for a set of 72 actions which are the backbone of the plan – a summary of some of those actions is included below.Work has already begun on implementing some of these actions. Suicide prevention work and training has also continued while work was underway on drafting the plan.
While the development of the plan was led by HSE Mental Health Services, it will be implemented by the entire community.
Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health Mr. Jim Daly TD said “I am delighted to launch Connecting for Life Cork. This plan particularly recognises the critical role that communities and local structures play in suicide prevention, and reinforces and supports this role. The supports that can be given to vulnerable individuals from the community, such as social support, follow-up care, tackling stigma and supporting those bereaved by suicide, can make a crucial difference to a person in distress. This plan, tailored to Cork’s specific needs, is a welcome addition to helping us care for our community effectively.”
Head of Mental Health Services with the HSE’s Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Organisation Sinead Glennon said “This is a community issue and we need the entire community to be involved. That’s why the plan itself was developed in a collaborative way, with as much consultation as possible. Today that this is the beginning of the process, not the end – the real work begins now in implementing the plan and making it a reality. We look forward to working with everyone at the launch, and the wider community, in lifting this plan from the page into reality.”
“I wish to pay tribute to the many people who have played a role in bringing this plan together. It’s important that this cross-community approach continues as the plan is implemented. We in the Community Healthcare Organisation look forward to working with all to implement this important plan,” she added.
HSE Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention Mr. Martin Ryan said that the plan had been based on county-wide consultation, with great engagement from the public, communities, voluntary bodies and other agencies. “This has led to a comprehensive action plan for Cork, with all agencies stepping forward to support in roles as lead agency or partner agency. This will mean that going forward for implementation we have a very strong platform and commitment from across the county.”
Mr.Ryan’s comments were echoed by fellow HSE Resource Officer for Suicide Prevention Ms. Helena Cogan by saying “The implementation of the Connecting for life Cork, will seek to build upon the suicide prevention initiatives that the HSE, it’s partners and other organisations have been committed to for many years in Cork. And it is essential that people realise the importance of making it a priority to look after their own mental health and wellbeing and also be alert to the signs of distress in those around them, as the prevention of suicide is everyone’s business”.
The Chief Executives of Cork City Council and Cork County Council have both written forwards to the plan. Ms. Ann Doherty, Chief Executive of Cork City Council said “We in Cork City Council look forward to continuing the work on a collaborative and systematic approach to suicide”. The Chief Executive of Cork County Council Mr. Tim Lucey pledged “the full support of County Council in implemented the plan through Cork County”.
Some of the 72 actions included in the “Connecting For Life Cork” Plan include:
· Raising awareness in schools of available youth mental health supports and services.
· Providing clubs in all sports with information on youth mental health, suicide prevention supports and services.
· Campaigns using the experience of local ambassadors to normalise positive attitudes to mental health and reduce stigma.
· Completing a review of annual festivals, fund days, park days, fun runs and similar events with a view to exploring options of collaboration with services relating to stigma reduction.
· Increase the uptake in Cork of training including SafeTALK, ASIST, Stress Control. Also increasing awareness in the community of those who are trained. Almost 10,000 Cork people have completed the half-day SafeTALK training in recent years.
· Delivering annual training and awareness programmes to staff and volunteers in agencies which have contact with vulnerable groups.
· The introduction of a mental health and wellbeing focus into parent and baby/toddler groups on a pilot basis.
· Providing information on supports and services to all religious groups.
· Establish a communication protocol between first responders eg Gardai and the HSE in the intermediate aftermath of deaths which are likely to be determined as suicide.
· Support and resource the needs of local GPs in the area of suicide prevention, especially in relation to training.
· Delivering targeting community workshops on positive mental health and wellbeing.
· Increase the number of schools in Cork who are part of the Healthy Ireland Health Promoting Schools Network and who are thereby taking a whole school approach to supporting mental health and wellbeing.
· Continued support for and development of the Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurse (SCAN) service across the city and county.
The full Connecting for Life Cork suicide and self harm prevention plan can be viewed at the following link –http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/4/Mental_Health_Services/connecting-for-life/Strategy-Implementation/Local-action-plans/connectcork.html
Connecting for Life Cork website is www.connectingforlifecork.ie