HSE sets out Cavan’s suicide and mental health services

Process of appointing Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurse (SCAN) is underway

It’s hoped funding can be provided for research to examine the factors behind Cavan’s high suicide rates.

As part of a series examining mental health supports and Cavan’s high suicide rates, The Anglo-Celt queried what work is ongoing locally to tackle the issue.

In a lengthy response, the HSE said a number of measures are already in place or are being introduced to deal with crisis issues and mental health problems faced by people in Cavan.

The organisation says it is working with the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) to approve funding to commission further research into the risk and contributing factors in the local area. Efforts are also ongoing to reach approval through the NOSP and National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) to establish the Suicide and Self-Harm Observatory (SSHO) in the Cavan and Monaghan areas. It’s hoped these measures can provide further information and background on suicide cases and some of the factors leading up to them.

The process of appointing Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurse (SCAN) is underway. A spokesperson confirmed the process “is currently progressing to recruitment”. The specialist nurse would be available to GPs and other healthcare providers to offer a fast assessment of somebody in distress.

In September of last year, Minister for Mental Health Mary Butler said she hoped a SCAN could be appointed locally but the role has yet to be set up.

The need for early intervention and highlighting the need for a person to look after their mental health has also consistently been raised locally.

As part of this, the HSE’s CHO Area 1 Mental Health Services are implementing a number of measures around youth mental health. Posts are currently in the recruitment phase and locations for service delivery are being identified.

A consultation is underway to draw up the model of service delivery including the option of establishing a Jigsaw or a HSE-managed and governed service.

The HSE says “following careful consideration and option appraisal it was agreed to establish an Early Intervention Youth Mental Health Service under the auspices of the HSE with a budget in year one of €401,129”. A number of staff for the service are currently being recruited.

These include a Senior Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Nurse Specialist, an administrator and youth worker.

The HSE says a number of other measures are already in place, including counselling services and therapies.

The spokesperson said the Connecting for Life programme for Cavan and Monaghan was set up in June 2017 and a number of its measures have already been established.

This includes funding for community and voluntary groups to implement initiatives around self-harm and suicide. A total of €31,610 in funding was given to 11 local groups.

Suicide prevention

Training around suicide prevention has also been carried out, including through the LivingWorks programme. That suicide prevention awareness training programme is carried out online. It aims to help participants identify people who are at risk of suicide, to confidently ask them about the topic of suicide and to connect them with resources that can help them stay safe. A licence is required for each individual to undertake the Start programme, with 216 issued across Cavan and Monaghan since late May 2020.

The response to a suicide, both within a family or friend group and in the community, also forms part of the HSE’s strategy.

Community Response to Suicide protocol guidelines were launched by the NOSP on September 15. As part of these guidelines, a local community response team will be established to develop a local response plan.

The HSE funds the Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service in conjunction with Pieta House. It is available to provide practical help and emotional support following the death of a loved one through suicide.

Counselling is also available through Pieta House’s services for people who are in suicidal crisis, engaging in self-harm and people who are bereaved by suicide. These services are open to anyone over six years of age.

Separately, the HUGG suicide bereavement support group operates in Cavan and allows those bereaved by suicide to share their experiences and feelings.