Suicidal and self-harming children and young people will be the focus of a new, ground breaking initiative called ‘Practise Hope’ to help more of them get better support from their doctors’ surgeries. The launch takes place on Thursday, July 4th, at the Holiday Inn, Gatwick.
The 18-month pilot is a collaboration between Olly’s Future, Mind and Health Education England. Thirty GP practices across Kent, Sussex and Surrey will be involved. They will be supported by three local Mind branches* and each receive £1,000 to help implement new ways of working to bring about a culture change in primary care to better support distressed ten to 25-year-olds. It is hoped the pioneering programme will be rolled out nationally after the pilot.
At the heart of ‘Practise Hope’ is Oliver Hare, from Worthing, who took his own life in February 2017, two days before his 23rd birthday. His mother, Ann Feloy, is founder of Olly’s Future – www.ollysfuture.org.uk – which raises awareness of young suicide and prevention.
Ann said her son went for the first time ever to see his doctor feeling depressed and anxious in early January 2017 and a few weeks later was prescribed an antidepressant by another doctor over the phone. Oliver took his life after just four days of taking the SSRI.
She said: “I know from tragic experience what improvements could have helped my son. Oliver was such a kind and compassionate person and would have contributed so much to this world had he lived. It is of some comfort to know that, with vision and ambition from all those involved, this initiative will help others in his memory. As Patients Care Lead for ‘Practise Hope’ I have the chance to work with GP practices, bereaved parents, carers and young people to help shape those ideas.”
Ideas could include young people’s clinics and focus groups, use of apps, ‘opt in’ procedures to alert other family members and training for GPs and surgery staff dealing with parents who have lost children to suicide.
Dr. Geraldine Strathdee CBE, former National Clinical Director for Mental Health, NHS England and co-founder of Zero Suicide Alliance, will be the keynote speaker at Practise Hope launch briefing the launch. Courtney Buckler, 24, and Harees Khalique, 23, who have had thoughts of suicide and self-harmed since teenage years will also be speaking.
Cavita Chapman, clinical advisor at Health Education England working across Kent, Surrey and Sussex, said: “It’s estimated that around a third of those who die by suicide in England were in contact with primary care services but not specialist mental health services. In recent years, the number of young people taking their own lives has increased. We want more children and young people to feel they can turn to their local GP practice for help and for those practices to respond effectively and with compassion.”
Dr Sam Fraser, Clinical Lead for “Practise Hope’ said that suicide is the leading cause of death in young people, accounting for 14 per cent of deaths in 10 to 19year-olds and 21 per cent of deaths in 20 to 34-year-olds. (National Confidential Inquiry). Statistics show that suicide, in children and young people, is on the increase across England and Wales. (NSPCC 2018).
GP practices will win the PACE setter Award for Suicide Prevention and Self Harm if they carry out a self- assessment audit of their safeguarding procedures and an engagement exercise with at least one per cent. of their target population of children and young people with thoughts of suicide or who self-harm, as well as half of their staff on the issue of their own well-being.
Three additional activities must also be carried out and it is up to the GP surgeries to be creative and pioneering in reaching out and responding to children and young people. They will then be expected to share their new ways of working with other GP practices.