Rural Mental Health Forum 28th April
At today’s Rural Mental Health Forum Seminar, we heard from Sgt Laura Gibson, Police Scotland, on the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group.
Sgt Laura Gibson is currently seconded from the Safer Communities department of Police Scotland to the National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group. There, she works as delivery lead for Action 6 of the Suicide Prevention Action Plan which focuses on the use of digital and technology. Laura presented an update on the groups work, including research, highlighting the challenges and benefits digital innovation can bring.
Several of the challenges and benefits of the digital world that Laura raised – including barriers to devices and software, and the formation of supportive online communities – have been common themes in the student community this past year or so. Several of the points Laura highlighted like the use of chatbots and easy to access resources, could be applied to different scenarios, including students in education. Some of the digital ideas raised have already been done at SRUC, the mySRUC app, the website chatbot, and providing digital equipment to students in need of laptops.
Laura also asked us to look at the United to prevent suicide website and sign up to the movement for change on suicide. Cara has signed this and will look into ways we can highlight awareness and support resources in our Student Mental Health projects and campaigns over the next year.
We then heard from Ben Lejac from Support in Mind Scotland about Researching the role of social prescribing in Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19.
Social prescribing: non-medical ways people can get support to improve their mental health and wellbeing. This can be through horticulture therapy, volunteering opportunities, or an activity that brings people together, gives a sense of purpose and connection. Social prescribing is an adaptable and flexible way people can get support, it’s not a “one size fits all”, and there are lots of different options available for people to access via community support, Charity’s or the NHS.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on funding, social opportunities, mental health and physical wellbeing has been significant. Scotland’s public services and community organisations are facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of the crisis. Whilst referrals to non-clinical community support have never been in higher demand, the pressures of the pandemic place never-before-seen pressures on the ability to develop and deliver innovative, collaborative support to communities.
A new study, commissioned by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and carried out by Support in Mind Scotland and the National Rural Mental Health Forum, aims to uncover the origins, current situation and potential for social prescribing, and other community approaches to wellbeing – to support Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19. Ben, the project’s coordinator, presented an overview of the research to the Forum, there was then a discussion on how to develop and change social prescribing in the post-pandemic public service environment.
This links in with supports available to students and really highlights there should be a greater choice of support for people to access, and that there could be greater demand for alterative support options in the future. SRUC offers some Horticultural therapy modules, which could be a great foundation if you are interested in working in this area.