Support booklet for families launched


Support booklet for families launched

Families of patients who have self-harmed or had suicidal thoughts are getting advice on they can support their relative through the traumatic experience. The advice is in a new support booklet for families published by the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) in association with the Public Health Agency (PHA).


Suicide prevention is a priority for everyone involved in healthcare. In recent years there have been a range of initiatives, both across the Province and locally, to strengthen mental health services in the community particularly in relation to self-harm and suicide. The ‘Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family after Self-harm or Suicidal Thoughts’ booklet was developed in response to requests from families who wanted more information on what care will be provided to their relative when in hospital and how the family can help their loved one at home. It also contains information on how and where to access further support.


Speaking at the launch of the booklet, Trevor Millar, Director of Adult Mental Health at the Western Trust, said: “Family members accompanying their relative to hospital often ask what their role is and how they can provide care for their loved one. The Trust has developed this resource to explain to families what happens in the Emergency / GP out of hours department on admission, what information they can provide to help the assessment of their loved one, what they can ask prior to leaving the hospital and what they need to do when they return home.”


“The Trust is committed to addressing the needs of families’ and their loved ones and to the Protect Life Suicide Prevention Strategy where we endeavour to tackle this major public health issue that continues to challenge our society.  This booklet has been developed in close consultation with families, statutory, community and voluntary groups to provide information which will empower families when providing care for their loved one.”


The booklet will be available from emergency and urgent care departments and from the GP’s Out Of Hours service. It will be given to families by a staff member involved in the care of their relative.


Brendan Bonner, Head of Health Improvement (West), said: “Since the launch of the Protect Life Strategy in 2006 the Public Health Agency, in partnership with many agencies continues to address the issue of self-harm and suicide, providing help and support for families and staff to ensure that individuals are referred to, and get information about, the most appropriate service to meet their needs, in a timely and sensitive manner.”


Families bereaved by suicide and the North West Bereaved by Suicide Support Group contributed to the leaflet.  One family member said: “Families, friends or other individuals, who find themselves in A&E with someone in mental crisis are often at a complete loss as to what their role is in trying to help the person in crisis. 


“This leaflet is important because it provides information to those dealing with an acute mental crisis seeking urgent medical help.  It empowers patients, and those accompanying them, to enter into dialogue with medical personnel. It guides them to ask pertinent questions; to feel comfortable in doing so and to know they are being listened to.  It also allows medical personnel to be aware of the procedures that can be put in place to improve the immediate situation and to provide concrete guidance for the patient and those accompanying the patient.”