Elected Members and senior staff at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have been taking part in awareness sessions with the Public Health Agency (PHA) on suicide prevention.
The collaboration to promote mental and emotional wellbeing comes as World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October.
Mid and East Antrim are the first council in Northern Ireland to form this partnership with the PHA.
The session outlines the important role Elected Members and staff can play and create direct contacts with support services across the Borough.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Cllr Paul Reid said, “Suicide and mental health are extremely important issues and my commitment this year as Mayor is to support the work of the PCSP here to help raise money for services in this sector.
“It’s great to further our working relationship with the Public Health Agency as we acknowledge World Mental Health Day. We are keen to work closely together to learn how Council can help the citizens across Mid and East Antrim. Mental health is something we all need to talk more openly about and events like this really help break down those barriers.
“We want to see safe and healthy communities for all of our citizens. As part of our Community Plan, Council will continue to work with our partners to secure a better quality of life, improved health and wellbeing across our Borough.”
Council staff and Elected Members participated in an information session to increase their knowledge and understanding about suicide and mental and emotional wellbeing. They were also briefed about Samaritans Media guidelines for Reporting Suicide.
The Chief Executive of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Anne Donaghy said, “Elected Members interact regularly with their communities and have an important role to play in frontline intervention for those in crisis. With guidance from the PHA, they can now look out for those who may be struggling and respond effectively when approached for help.”
Mary Black, Assistant Director of Public Health for Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement with the PHA said, “This initiative by the Council shows great leadership and offers real practical support to Members. Elected representatives often come into contact with constituents facing life’s biggest challenges such as illness, death, job loss and family breakdown. Their role offers an opportunity to help people experiencing difficulties and who may even be at risk of suicide. Some of those people may not initially seek support from mental health professionals or even from family members.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to raise awareness about mental and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention.”
More information on looking after your mental health and the support which is available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info
If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on T: 0808 808 8000. The free-phone helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website www.lifelinehelpline.info/