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In Mind: The latest news from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty discussing news and events at Mersey Care

I’d like to start this week’s blog with some great news with the announcement that His Royal Highness The Duke Of Cambridge will officially open Life Rooms Walton next Thursday.

It’s really positive news for the Trust as a whole but particularly for the Life Rooms. I mentioned last week that when I first arrived at this organisation five years ago we discussed, as a Board, the concept of establishing a community hub and a base for our Recovery College.

That concept has grown into the Life Rooms and although it first opened its doors in Walton over a year ago, it will be officially opened by the Duke of Cambridge next week. It’s a great reward for all the work put in by the Life Rooms team to promote recovery and positive mental health and wellbeing.

Over 16,000 people have visited Life Rooms Walton in the last year, accessing facilities like an employment and enterprise hub, meeting spaces for community groups, free IT for use by everyone who visits and advice on money, housing and community services for service users and carers.

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The Life Rooms has taken on a key role in supporting our service users, families and carers to recover, to stay well and ultimately get in the driving seat of their own lives. As we continue to evaluate the work of the Life Rooms we believe we are developing a model that, when properly integrated with our wider services, will not only make care more effective but also provide the people we serve with better and happier life outcomes.

It’s a model we, as an organisation, are passionate about and we have already opened a second Life Rooms in Southport while there are plans to open a third in Bootle in partnership with Hugh Baird College. Life Rooms Bootle will enable us to provide enhanced support for the mental health and wellbeing of young adults – a need highlighted greatly in the news of late.

Royal visits don’t tend to just happen and I’d like to think a common goal of ending stigma in mental health – as shown by their Royal Highnesses in their own ‘Heads Together’ campaign – has influenced the decision in granting next week’s visit. More information on the visit can be found here.

Zero Suicide Update

It has been encouraging to learn this week that deaths by suicide in Great Britain have fallen to their lowest rate since 2011, according to figures released by the Office For National Statistics (ONS).

They have fallen from 5,870 to 5,668 in the 12 months since 2015, a drop of 4.7 per cent. There has also been a drop of 9.4 per cent in the rate of women taking their own lives, while men dying from suicide have also fallen by three per cent.

It’s pleasing to see that the figures are going in the right direction, but there is still a very long way to go. To put things into perspective, this equates to roughly 30 crashes of a 727 jet every year – can you imagine the resources put towards preventing that happening if that was an annual event?

The ONS believe the figures are going in the right direction because of initiatives like our own ‘Zero Suicide’ policy, which is good to hear. I’m also sure that the number of celebrities now talking about mental health issues has significantly raised the profile of the subject.

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Here at Mersey Care we continually try to raise the profile of mental health and our zero suicide programme, particularly in the build up to major landmarks like World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September.

If you haven’t already, why not listen to the recent BBC Radio Four documentary on our zero suicide programme, which you can do by clicking here. I’ll warn those who haven’t listened that it’s very moving in parts, but also underlines the importance of what we are doing and just why we are aiming for the magical number ‘zero.’