The City of London Corporation’s suicide prevention work – Nov 2019 update

The National Suicide Prevention Alliance recognises the importance of promoting good mental health at work, and the vital role this can play in suicide prevention. The City of London Corporation, a member of the NSPA, is raising awareness of workplace well-being in the city, promoting help seeking and providing practical support.  You can read about some of the important work they are doing below. (Find their previous update here.)

Mental Health Street Triage

The City of London Corporation Mental Health Street Triage initiative started in May 2017 as a pilot scheme after the Corporation noticed numerous people in crisis were attracted to the square mile to attempt suicide. It was initially implemented from Thursday to Saturdays, and City of London Police officers were accompanied on their 5pm to 3am rounds by NHS mental health nurses who provided on the spot advice and guidance to officers as well as assessing and triaging vulnerable individuals to a place of safety.

Encouraged by the impact of the pilot, the service was extended from 3 to 7 nights a week and over the 2.5 years existence of this service, has supported 681 people in crisis, many of whom would have been transported to a police station should the Mental Health Street Triage have not been in place. The project was awarded NHS team of the year at the end of 2018.

Find out more here.

Business Healthy

During 2019, Business Healthy has been engaging with the business community in the City and further afield, as well as other key stakeholders on the topic of mental health – particularly where it relates to City workers and working-age adults.

Examples of this work include:

  • Delivery of three Suicide Prevention Awareness sessions to the City’s business community, in partnership with Samaritans and the City of London Police (February, June and October 2019). 55 individuals representing 20 different organisations were trained across the three sessions, including Heads of HR, Security and Facilities, as well as employees with an interest in mental health. Feedback showed that, on average, 97% of attendees who responded felt that the session had helped them to feel more confident in identifying and approaching someone who is at crisis point and who might be considering suicide. The sessions also helped to generate income for Samaritans.
  • Showcasing the City of London Corporation’s work on promoting and improving mental wellbeing among the local worker population and suicide prevention at events including the National Suicide Prevention Alliance’s annual conference and a Revo meeting on suicide awareness and prevention in March 2019 (Revo is a national consortium of shopping centre owners), and in publications such as the St John Ambulance blog (for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019), City Security magazine and the Royal Society for Public Health blog. Business Healthy was also an event partner for the Mad World Summit 2019 – a high-profile event focusing on mental health and the workplace.
  • Business Healthy continues to support wider efforts to tackle mental health-related stigma in the workplace, improve mental health literacy among the UK’s workforce and advocate for mental health as a business priority, by its representation on the Steering Group of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s “This is Me in the City” and green ribbon campaigns, and as an Operational Lead for the City Mental Health Alliance.
  • Earlier this year Business Healthy conducted qualitative research into the health and wellbeing needs of City workers, which found that mental health and work-life balance are seen as priority areas for City workers and their employers alike, with regard to wider workforce health and wellbeing.
  • Business Healthy also hosted a free webinar on problem gambling, mental health and the workplace, in partnership with charity GamCare and City law firm Squire Patton Boggs.

Find out more here.

Dragon Café in the City

Following a successful pilot in 2018, Dragon Café in the City secured funding which will allow it to be delivered from April 2019 until at least April 2021.

Dragon Café in the City, which operates from Shoe Lane Library fortnightly on Wednesdays (12-7.30pm), offers a range of free and creative activities aimed at providing City workers and residents with an opportunity to release the pressure from day-to-day life. The vast majority of visitors providing feedback have said that attending has helped to improve their mental health.

Dragon Café in the City has also hosted “special” sessions aimed at engaging specific target audiences within the City’s resident and worker populations, including a speaker session, a “Day of the Dead” session focusing on bereavement and a special session to mark National Carers’ Week.

The City of London Corporation’s Public Health team was invited to share insights and best practice from Dragon Café in the City at the City Health International Conference 2019.

Find out more here.

BarberTalk in the City of London

Set up by inspirational British barber Tom Chapman after losing a friend to suicide in 2015, the Lions Barber Collective is turning barbershops into safe spaces for men, using the opportunity of a regular haircut to start conversations about mental health. This international group of barbers helps raise awareness of mental illness and aims to prevent suicide by creating and delivering a specific training for barbers enabling them to recognise, talk and listen out for symptoms of depression in clients and signpost them to relevant support services. Tom developed Barber Talk with the help of psychiatrists and mental health professionals; it is an adaptation of Safe Talk for barbers.

To support the Lions Barber Collective and promote the great work they achieve in making barbershops safe places for men to talk about potential mental health issues, the City of London Corporation supported a promotional event on 7 October 2019 at the Worshipful Company of Barber-Surgeons’ Livery Hall. Ambassadors and volunteers shared their stories and the mission of the Lions Barber Collective, leading to a celebratory ‘first cut’ in the hall in centuries, under Holbein’s painting of Henry VIII with his Barber-Surgeons and Apothecaries.

The City of London Corporation is hopeful that other local authorities will want to promote and support barbers in their area being trained and helping save lives.

Find out more here.

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