West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (WY HCP) has issued a renewed appeal for everyone to ‘check in with a mate’ this Christmas – with the festive period often proving a challenging time for many.
The Partnership’s ongoing ‘Check In With Your Mate’ suicide prevention campaign launched in May and aims to normalise conversations around suicide and mental health, particularly among young men.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows suicide is more common in West Yorkshire than in England as a whole – with significantly more men taking their own lives than women.
The campaign’s messages are particularly poignant in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, when worries and pressures can feel intensified and take a toll on people’s mental health.
Rob Webster, CEO Lead for WY HCP, who lost his 32-year-old brother to suicide in 2003, said:
“This time of year can feel overwhelming for many – whether that’s money worries, family difficulties, grief or loneliness.
“While people struggling with their mental health or at risk of suicide may try to hide how they are feeling, creating an environment where they know it is ok to talk could be vital.
“All suicide is preventable – it is not inevitable.
“By encouraging more conversations around mental health, particularly among men, and breaking the stigma around suicide, we can all help to potentially save lives.”
Errol Murray, founder of voluntary organisation Leeds Dads, backed the WY HCP’s Check In With Your Mate campaign and stressed the importance of looking out for each other, especially at this time of year. He said:
“We host a regular text-based chat on our private Facebook group every week. Around 50 to 60 people engage and we expect those numbers to rise over Christmas.”
Highlighting the effect of the cost-of-living crisis, Errol added:
“Most people can’t afford the Christmas they provided last year. It’s even more difficult if you are not with your children or if you are, but are feeling the stress of creating the best Christmas – not realising that the best gift is actually just being available to your children and family.”
He urged all to reach out and check in on their friends now and into the future.
“It’s so important people check in with their mates – let them know it’s ok to talk and remember to stay in touch with the people who care about you. For anyone struggling, know there is support out there for you.”
A range of resources has been created for the Check In With Your Mate campaign, including graphics for social media posts, website banners and posters, encouraging all to help spread the word.
Developed by and featuring local men, from their experiences, messages on the graphics include: ‘Is your sporty mate suddenly off his game?’, ‘Does your mate always want to have one too many?’ and ‘Has the mate who’s always got something to say gone quiet?’
Becky Elliott, senior responsible officer for WY HCP Suicide Prevention Programme and public health manager at Kirklees Council said:
“The campaign is focused on men, because of the increased suicide risk among men, but it is important to look out for, and check in on, all those around you.
“You don’t need to solve somebody’s problems but by simply being there and listening, you will help someone who may otherwise be struggling alone.
“Please to have those conversations and also help spread the word with our campaign resources, which signpost to the most up to date support across West Yorkshire for those in need.”
Becky also encouraged people to take the free, 20-minute online Zero Suicide Alliance training, adding:
“You don’t need to be a medical professional to talk to someone. This training helps build confidence for people have those conversations. It’s important not to worry about saying the wrong thing.”
Download the free resources and join the campaign at Check-in With Your Mate – Check-In (staffcheck-in.co.uk)
Visit suicidepreventionwestyorkshire.co.uk for up to date support across West Yorkshire as well as the latest suicide prevention news, resources and available training.
For more information on Leeds Dads, visit leedsdads.org, or www.facebook.com/leedsdads, or contact Errol Murray on firstname.lastname@example.org. The organisation is also looking for more dads to provide peer support for the evening Facebook sessions.
This post is based on a press release issued by West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership
Main Photo: Ryan Melaugh via Creative Commons
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