Every Life Matters - Suicide Prevention and Awareness Project (2018-19)
With the Suicide Prevention funding from Kent County Council, Medway Council and Kent & Medway STP, Medway Diversity Forum delivered a youth driven Suicide Prevention campaign in Medway for the first time - planned, designed and delivered by Black Asian Minority Ethnic young people for their peers at home, community and school to create awareness and remove stigma.
To achieve this aim, we provided a cookery session as an ice breaker for the participants to get to know one another and find out their strengths and skills which would be useful in designing the campaign. This was followed by 5 workshops, led by a consultant psychiatrist and the project manager, where the young people were given a short awareness training, facts and statistics about Suicide and Self-harm, discussed about their perception and experience relating to the topic, brainstormed ideas, designed the poster and banner pens and what the next steps would be.
The message imparted in the campaign was more powerful as it came from young people themselves rather from adults’ perspective. The posters were widely circulated among the statutory bodies and the voluntary sector to raise the profile of the project. This project is first of its kind in Medway for BAME youths.
The participants have realised that they can play a role in preventing suicidal behaviour, whether by being more open about the issue to raise awareness, fight stigma, by looking out for and providing support to vulnerable individuals by signposting them to services mentioned in the campaign.
The participants reported the skills they have gained are Interpersonal skills, understanding emotions, extended and improved communication skills, improved social skills, more confidence to deal with difficult situations wisely and sensitively, expressing ideas with freedom, team working, creative skills, creating & designing posters for the first time, and how to deal with people who have mental health issues
Some of the young people present were able to discuss their innermost thoughts freely as they felt the surrounding was safe and comfortable enough to do so.
Participants learnt many things such as working together with people from different backgrounds, making sure everyone’s ideas are heard and considered and statistics about mental health in the Medway area.
They learnt about ways to look after their mental health and wellbeing, and spot signs of mental health problems. They felt that MDF facilitator & the Project Manager were very understanding when discussing this sensitive topic, which helped them to discuss their issues freely and in a non-judgemental way. They learned to design posters/ campaign for the first time as a team taking everyone’s view in to account.
One of the most important outcomes has been that 2 of the participants who are experiencing mental health issues and stigma due to their sexual orientation want to now make a short film on how mental health affects young people in their everyday lives. MDF is trying to seek funding and work with other charities to enable this to come to fruition.
One unintended consequence was the knowledge that young people do not get the support required from their schools and know who to approach when they are experiencing mental health issues.
65% felt that this program will be useful/applicable in their lives
75% felt the support from MDF has been excellent
All said that they would like to be involved in similar project if opportunities come up
Our sincrere thanks to our Chair, Dr Mallika Sundaram, Victory Academy School in Chatham and their Community Liaison Officer Monika Oravcova for their tremendous support and help with the project
“Belonging to LGBTQ+ and migrant community, I was able to open up to group of people who understand what I've gone through and for them to relate or understand has helped me not feel alone and more acceptable to the society we live in right now.”
LESSONS FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT
The participants came up with the following ideas as the next step:
Workshops/ training to adults in schools and communities to provide more information and support to young people who are in distress.
Wish to create a short film about young people with mental health issues
Organise visits/ assemblies in schools to raise awareness and help people to recognise the problem
Get more young people to sign up for similar programs
Organise a fundraising event to further awareness - cake, clothes, books and artwork sale, Fashion show/ Talent show
Have some mental health experts go to schools and educate teens on what anxiety and depression is, what it looks like, how it feels, and the signs that someone might have mental health issues. There is still a lot of people who don’t understand the terms, make jokes about it and approach this topic in such an insensitive way. Even though there is a lot more awareness about depression and anxiety, especially in this generation, these terms are still thrown around loosely, without people understanding the severity of these issues. They are simply uninformed on the details of these problems and how to approach them.
“This project has helped me understand that mental health issues can affect anyone and that it is important to check up on your family and friends. Hearing first hand from some of the people in the group how mental health issues affected them and how they did not know what support services are out there was an eye-opener for me.”