Many people across the nation are living with mental illnesses including suicidal thoughts, and the NHS is doing its best to offer them help and support. 

NHS mental health staff at Woodlands Centre for Acute Care in Hastings have worked with individuals suffering from various mental health issues to create a new scheme named ‘A Letter of Hope’. The Letter is a personal message tailored by those who have experienced similar issues, and sent to vulnerable persons to ensure they realise they are not alone and not without help – even though they may feel at their most lonely.

It’s hoped the message will support people to stop, reflect and think at a time when events and emotions are really hard to cope with.

Woodlands Centre is run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which provides mental health and learning disability healthcare across Sussex.

Tracy Albrow, Urgent Care Service Manager, said: “Suicide is devastating, especially for families and loved ones but also for colleagues, friends, people under the care of our services and the staff in those services. It touches and affects so many people. We want to build on the suicide prevention work done so far across the Trust and help to achieve better outcomes for people who may be thinking about ending their life.”

“A Letter of Hope” has already had a positive impact: patients, service users and staff have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback they have received.

One participant said: “I just want to thank you for guiding our Letter of Hope sessions. I have found them one of the best led, all inclusive, empowering sessions. Everyone was treated with respect, and we felt listened to.”

Another added: “I think our most valuable contribution to the Letter of Hope is the fact that we acknowledge that we have all been in this position ourselves, and we are reaching out in the most genuine way we can. We will also be offering further practical support in the form of contact numbers and places to go. It has been valuable to share, and to realise that our experience may just help someone else.”

“It has been an uplifting experience being involved with the project and working closely together,” said another service user.

If you are having thoughts and/or urges about hurting yourself or ending your life, or if you are worried about someone else who may be having these thoughts and feelings, you should go to any hospital A&E department and ask for help. Alternatively you can talk to the Samaritans on 116123 at any time or download our Stay Alive app – a pocket suicide prevention resource, full of information which we hope will help you stay safe. Stay Alive can be downloaded for free on Android and iOS.

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