Nursing students and staff at the University of Wolverhampton have presented a pioneering suicide prevention project to a panel of experts who are reviewing the mental health of the NHS workforce.
The major study is being led by Sir Keith Pearson from Health Education England and a final report will be presented to health secretary Matt Hancock in December 2018 with a list of recommendations. The review involves both NHS staff and learners.
“They did themselves, nursing and the university very proud in their exemplary professionalism and articulation”
As part of the research, the panel has been hearing from organisations delivering good practice in this area. The University of Wolverhampton was picked for its Three Minutes to Save a Life programme.
Senior lecturer in mental health nursing, Clare Dickens, who spearheaded the project, was invited to present information about the scheme to the panel earlier this month. She took with her mental health nursing students Jordan Bridges and Richard Jones.
The Three Minutes to Save a Life workshops are dedicated to tackling the issues of suicide and self-harm.
Participants are shown how to spot early warning signs in both themselves and others and what steps can be taken to prevent the problems escalating. They are also taught about emotional resilience.
More than 800 staff and students have taken part in the course. The initiative proved so successful that students on nursing and other health courses at Wolverhampton now receive the training as part of their curriculum.
Third year mental health nursing student Mr Jones said: “I genuinely believe that the Three Minutes to Save a Life training is vital in any students’ journey.
“The training has developed my understanding of my own distress and that of others, with a confidence and commitment to do something about it,” he said.
“The approach is heavily steeped in scientific and theoretical principles of compassion which has allowed me to go forward with a refreshed confidence,” he added.
Ms Dickens said the two students shared their experiences of studying nursing with the panel as well as the benefits of the Three Minutes to Save a Life programme.
“I genuinely believe that the Three Minutes to Save a Life training is vital in any students’ journey”
She added: “They did themselves, nursing and the university very proud in their exemplary professionalism and articulation.
“Sir Keith Pearson concluded the questioning in commenting that the panel represented some senior professionals and leads in health this country, and if this is the standard of professionals who we are leaving our NHS to, he is assured it is in safe hands.”
Earlier this week, it was revealed that suicide rates in the UK had fallen to the some of the lowest on record.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics showed there were 5,821 suicides registered in the UK in 2017, representing a rate of 10.1 deaths per 100,000 people. This annual rate was second lowest since the ONS accounts began in 1981.
The number of men taking their own life has reached an all-time low, but the data shows men are still three times more likely than women to die by suicide.
Andy Cruickshank, associate director of nursing for mental health at East London NHS Foundation Trust, told Nursing Times how nurses played a “really important” role in helping to support people struggling with suicidal thoughts.
He said: “As nurses, we generally see people at their most vulnerable and so paying attention to how they are feeling, asking about this and looking at their circumstances, whether they are feeling lonely or isolated and so on, can really help to begin a process of connection and hope for people.
”Giving people a bit of time – often a few minutes is all that’s needed – can be a helpful start,” he added.