The CEO of Gloucestershire charity Suicide Crisis (Joy Hibbins) is regularly invited to meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Suicide and Self Harm Prevention. The charity works nationally and locally to prevent suicide. It runs an award-winning Suicide Crisis Centre in Gloucestershire.
The APPG includes MPs from all the main political parties. At the APPG’s most recent meeting, Joy raised various issues including the importance of having open-access psychiatric crisis services. When someone experiences a suicidal crisis, it is important that they can immediately self-refer to the local mental health crisis team, even if they are unknown to psychiatric services. In many parts of the UK, it requires a professional (such as a GP) to refer someone to the mental health crisis team in the first instance and this can create a delay. In Gloucestershire, the mental health crisis team can be accessed by any member of the public without a professional’s referral. Families can also immediately contact the crisis team if a loved one is experiencing a suicidal crisis to make the initial referral. Joy stressed how important it is that other regions adopt this model of service.
Gillian Keegan, the Minister for Care and Mental Health, attended part of the All Party Parliamentary Group meeting. She spoke about the Government’s review of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy and heard feedback and questions from the participants at the meeting. Joy raised a number of concerns including the waiting times for psychological therapy under secondary mental health services and issues relating to mental capacity and suicide.
As a result of some the issues that she raised at the APPG meeting, Joy has also been invited to attend future meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Complex Needs and Dual Diagnosis, which focuses on individuals who have complex needs which may include a combination of severe mental health challenges and addiction.
Joy also regularly attends meetings of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees. At the most recent meeting, there was a focus on the number of refugees from Afghanistan who are still housed in hotels in the UK, and how important it is that they can be provided with a proper home. There was an explanation of the challenges and impact of living in the “public” and unfamiliar environment of a hotel, and also a particular emphasis on the urgent need for specific mental health support for the refugees from Afghanistan.
Note: the image of House of Parliament (attached) is from the website Pixabay which offers free use of photos on its site: free for commercial use, no attribution required.