A massive THANK YOU to Joey Collins and everyone involved

From everyone here at Harmless & The Tomorrow Project, we would like to extend our thanks to Joey Collins and all those involved in the mental health fundraiser which took place at Rough Trade in Nottingham last week.

The event brought together 5 music acts who put on a gig to support mental health and raise money for our services.

It is with support like this that we are able to continue supporting those in the community who need us most, helping us to create a brighter future for many.

The acts that performed on the night included:

The event helped to raise awareness of mental health while also raising money meaning we can help to support more people who self harm, are in suicide crisis or who have been bereaved by suicide. Your support really does save lives!

Let’s talk about invalidation

Let’s talk about invalidation.

As an individual who experiences mental health needs, anyone we have ever met tells us that the most vital intervention that they have ever received is not a grand mental health intervention, it is that of human decency and compassion.

When I opened homeless I knew that was important.

I had faced years of invalidating experiences within the mental health sector. That is a long time ago now and yet those people who come to our service still bring with them feelings of not being heard, of being turned away from the services because of how they feel and behave and cope. Often individuals and their families feel as though no one is listening. They feel as though unless and they are stood in a critical position ready to end their life that no one will hear their distress. In reality, with service cuts and funding cuts many people are sent away and do not find it easy to access prompt and efficient help for their needs.

But every contact we have with a person in distress is an opportunity to offer them compassion. It is an opportunity to offer them validation and not invalidation.

Even if we cannot offer them the level of help perhaps they are looking for, surely we can listen to their experiences.

If they tell you that they are desperate, they are desperate – you do not need to translate that. You do not need to invalidate that.

If they tell you that they self harm, you do not need to tell them that it is not severe enough for us to worry. You do not need to say that it is a fad.

You do not need to convey that you think they are doing it to fit in, or for attention; you need to hear that they are harming themselves to try and manage their extreme pain and distress.

If they tell you that they have suicidal thoughts. They have suicidal thoughts. They are not telling you that for any other reason except to communicate that they have distressing thoughts and images in their mind about death. We should be listening. That person is struggling.

If someone tells you that they plan to end their life for goodness sake, please listen.

Do not tell them that they look well.

Do not tell them that they seem hopeful.

Do not tell them that they have said this before and survived and so will not act on it.

All of these things are peoples experiences and stories. They are reporting things like this on a daily basis and usually by services.

Now is the time for this to change.

Invalidation is one of the key reasons that people describe as the motivator for not seeking help when they are suicidal. Bad experiences lead to disengagement and if people stop asking for help we have a problem.

Let’s each look at our own language and interactions and commit to doing things better because invalidation can be subtle, or explicit, but in all cases it is unhelpful.

Let’s change that. Please.

We have a story to tell

Yesterday  I was privileged enough to have been invited to present at the support after suicide partnership annual members meeting. This meeting brings together those individuals and organisations who dedicate their service or to the field of suicide bereavement.

In 2012 harmless established the tomorrow project. The tomorrow project has been privilege to work with individuals that have based their own suicide crisis and those who have been devastated by the impact of suicide. 

We now have a very important story to tell as a service. We can say that we know that those who come to us benefit from our work whether that is at a time of crisis or loss. 

We can tell you that those people believed by suicide face multiple challenges and  over varied periods of time. 

We can tell you that it is vital that we operate from a trauma informed perspective to help people at this time in their lives. 

We can tell you that if you get this right people come to us with high presenting levels of distress and depression and leave our service with that reduced and feeling much more hopeful about the future. 

We know that people come to us thinking that the future is no more and that they wish to end their life and we see them survive and overcome and eventually drive again. 

Our service has a story of hope to tell.

If we are willing as services to work meaningfully in these situations and to listen to what people say they need, they want and what will help then we truly can help. 

If you would like to know more about how to get support then please email Support@tomorrowproject.org.uk or have a look on our website.

A big thank you

A big thank you to Lois Fearn for organising a hugely successful fundraising event, in aid of Harmless and The Tomorrow Project services.

A massive thanks you to everyone who attended the Help for Mental Health day and those who bought raffle tickets and the delicious homemade cakes and scones. A phenomenal total of just over £1000 was raised!!

A special thank you to those who performed: The Brace, Ben Mark Smith and Jake Burns.

We are incredibly grateful for all your support.

 

Some words from Lois:

I’ve wanted to raise money for Harmless and The Tomorrow Project ever since I used their service last year.

I accessed the tomorrow project when I lost my Uncle David to suicide. I met with the lovely Rebecca (Support Officer) every week or so, for emotional support whilst I was dealing with the bereavement. David was the kindest man, he lived with my Nana and Grandad and helped care for him before he passed away. From then he always helped my nana, doing her shopping for her, taking the bins out, making cups of tea for her and for anyone who popped round. To say there’s a huge void with David gone would be an understatement, he was very loved by us and well known around the village for being friendly and polite.

With working in mental health and dealing with my own mental health issues, suicide is something I feel strongly about and is now obviously a sensitive subject. I have experienced people with small minded views who have told me suicide is “selfish”, and I refuse to let my wonderful uncle, and others be associated with that word. They are people, with friends, families, life experience, and are so much more than a stranger’s ignorant opinion.

Ultimately this is why I decided to raise money and awareness, to help people like my uncle, like myself, and to try to educate and inform people who simply don’t understand the complexity of suicide. 

The day was a HUGE success, raising just over £1000, which was double my target so I am over the moon. I really could not have done this without the help and support of others though. Trevor Harris, Diane Smith, The Brace, Jake Burns & Ben Smith. Along with everyone who donated raffle prizes and those who baked cakes for me. Finally, a massive thank you to all my friends, family and my boyfriend Scott and of course the Burton Joyce community – which I am very proud to be from.

 

Introducing one of our new Therapists – Justina

Hi everyone!

My name is Justina and I joined Harmless team in October 2019 as a full-time therapist. I work in a Person-Centred way to provide psychotherapy to clients who are affected by self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

I thought I knew about the service before I joined Harmless, but it was just a tip of the iceberg. Although Harmless have limited resources, I have first-hand witnessed how our staff go far and beyond to support a wide range of clients. Providing therapy and project work for people who self-harm is just a small part of our job. I feel privileged to be a part of the small Harmless team and also belong to a much bigger team of suicide prevention officers, suicide bereavement support workers, mental health trainers, researchers, fundraisers, admins, and managers.

I particularly value the fact that Harmless is a user-led organisation that also provides bespoke training. This way, our clients are not only listened to and heard in therapy sessions, but they are also approached in person-centred way on a wider, organisational level. This is why I also believe in practice that is informed by research, and vice versa – practice that informs science by generating data from genuine lived experiences of our clients.

Here at Harmless, I am looking forward to supporting clients in therapy sessions and hoping to improve their experiences within the organisation by engaging in research, getting to know and cooperating with other services available in the area, collaborating with local and national organisations to drive change in the mental health sector.

I have learned a lot in just a few months of being here, and I am eagerly waiting to expand and deepen my knowledge much more in my future with Harmless!

Justina

‘You’re stronger than you think you are’ – One of our clients shares their journey towards recovery

I will never forget the date and exact time that my life imploded, 23 June 2018 at 2:55pm. My partner of 16 years came upstairs and looked perturbed, I followed him downstairs and asked if he was OK. “I can’t do this anymore” were the words that came out of his mouth “It’s over.”

Those words haunted me for a very long time, and still do to some extent. I would cry myself to sleep and wake up in tears with the words ringing in my ears. Whilst I didn’t initially move out of the home we had recently bought together, we lived separate lives and seeing him every day inevitably brought about much grief and anxiety.

I started to up my drinking and without warning, I spiralled very quickly and the inevitable happened, I took an overdose.

I woke up in an emergency room, hooked up to machines and cried when I realised what I had done, but more so that I had survived. Full of remorse and regret I went home and was visited by my local mental health team, who advised me that I needed help, but a psychiatrist appointment was two years away, and that I should consider going private. I wondered at the time how many people survive that two years.

The months that followed were tough, and as anniversaries came and went, my anxiety levels became worse and I made three more attempts. Thankfully I survived and am here to tell my story.

I was introduced to Harmless through a friend of a friend, who was seriously concerned about me. I went to my first meeting and met Katie. I don’t remember much about it, as I cried throughout and poured my heart out into the room. She sat patiently, never once interrupting and listened intently. I left Harmless that day, got in the car to drive to London for work, and cried again, but it was an outpouring of relief more than sorrow. I remember calling a friend and telling them that I’d made the first step to recovery.

Whilst the journey hasn’t been easy, the glimmer of a flickering light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel kept me going. I would visit Katie weekly, sometimes I would laugh and others I would cry, but she was there, listening and helping.

Since the New Year, I believe I have turned a corner. I have a new job; my confidence is higher, and I am enjoying life once again. Don’t get me wrong, there are bad days too, but I know what I must do now to escape that temporary dark place. I refer to the safety plan that Katie and I put together, I use distraction techniques she taught me, and I make plans to stay safe.

If it wasn’t for Harmless and the wonderful Katie, I wouldn’t be typing this today, and in simple terms I wouldn’t be here. I owe my life to this amazing organisation, and I will never ever forget that they saved my life.

Stay safe out there, and remember, it’s always OK, to say I’m not OK.

You’re stronger than you think you are.

Come along to our Self Harm and Suicide Prevention Conference – 28th Feb 2020 in Nottingham

Our annual conference will this year be looking at ‘Apathy: The growing need for us to listen to our ‘hysterical’ women.’

For more information, or to book tickets, please click the following link: www.harmless.org.uk/store/From-Harm-to-hope-conference-2020

Or contact us on admin@harmless.org.uk, or 0115 880 0280 for more info.

Introducing Professor Tammi Walker – Speaker at our From Harm to Hope conference on 28th February 2020

Tammi is a Professor of Psychology at Teesside University. She is a Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Registered Senior Fellow with Advance HE and a mental health nurse by clinical background.

Tammi is the world’s leading authority on self-harm and suicide by women in prison and has published extensively on the topic. Her 2016 book Preventing Self-Injury and Suicide in Women’s Prisons (with Professor Graham Towl) is widely regarded as the most influential in forensic psychology.

At our conference on 28th February 2020, she will be presenting a session looking at ‘Women in Prison: Suicide, self-harm and the struggle for survival’.

If you are interesting in booking tickets to the conference, or would like further information, please visit www.harmless.org.uk/store/From-Harm-to-hope-conference-2020.

Or you can contact us by emailing admin@harmless.org.uk, or by calling 0115 880 0280.

Introducing one of our new Suicide Bereavement Support Officers, Thomas.

I joined the Tomorrow Project after volunteering in bereavement support for 3 years and I have heard some harrowing, traumatic and deeply tragic experiences of loss and Bereavement.  However, through those stories I have found that there is still hope and light for people and I have been committed to helping bereaved people through their dark times.

I hope to be able to continue supporting more people through their Bereavement with the Tomorrow Project and I am excited by the prospect of launching the Tomorrow Project in Derbyshire, with my new colleague Lisa. It is going to be a bit of a blank page and I’m sure their will be challenges along the way. Despite these probable challenges, it is such a worthwhile and important project that I will be fully committed to making the Derbyshire Tomorrow Project a success.  There are still a lot of barriers to break down in society when it comes to suicide and it is especially important to reverse the misconceptions that still surround it. Hopefully, this will allow us all to support people who are bereaved by suicide in the future.

Despite my eagerness to join the Tomorrow project, whenever there is change in my life it is greeted with a certain amount of uncertainty, which causes some anxiety and nerves. Although it is exciting to start a new challenge, I will have to adapt to a different working environment and build relationships with new colleagues. I think I can safely say I was in a comfort zone in my previous job. Working in the same job for 7 years gives you an experience and ultimately confidence as you know the job inside out. My new role will incorporate areas where I am confident, but I will also need to learn new skills, taking me away from my comfort zone.