The fourth episode in our podcast A World Where LivingWorks is “Putting Care in Healthcare”. This episode is all about healthcare, hospitals, and essential workers and finding the balance between education, understanding, and peer support when it comes to suicide prevention in healthcare.
Host Kim Borrowdale speaks with University of Calgary nursing professor Dr. Jacqueline Smith in Canada, and President of the Singapore Association of Social Workers Chey May Long. They discuss better ways to support those working in health to build skills and understanding when it comes to suicide prevention for patients and their families and really put the care in healthcare. And they touch on how health workers themselves can find balance between helping others and looking after their own mental wellness.
May has been instrumental in strengthening suicide prevention in Singapore through increasing the number of professionals trained in these skills, as well as advocating for suicide first aid training as part of institutional learning and development. And Jacqueline is particularly passionate about the value of suicide education in the healthcare field, especially in nursing where interaction with people is all about relationships and understanding the social determinants of health for individuals and their families.
Jacqueline feels talking about suicide lowers the stigma, “I’m just really encouraged by this conversation and this podcast today because I think what we need to do is, we need to talk publicly about the issues globally.” She notes that at the U of C it was an undergraduate student who brought the Applied Suicide Intervetion Skills Training (ASIST) to the attention of the leaders and now it’s a pillar in their mental health and wellness strategy.
“It’s about prioritising this, instead of making this an optional subject, we have to elevate it and look at, it’s a reality and how it’s taking people in our population, in our workplace, and in our communities, and in our countries. I think the more we talk about it, the more accepted it will become and it’s having to really look at mitigating that organisational stigma, you know, the cultural stigma, the internal/external stigma, there is so much of that as well, it just needs to be broken down, we need to disentangle the complexity of all of that.”
May agrees, “And maybe to add on, as Jacqueline talks about, I’m also reminded in Singapore, we are also slowly opening up and we do have a community mental health strategy, or a mental health strategy, where we realise that you really need to have more people and train even more lay people in terms of, not just about suicide prevention/intervention, but to identify the various kinds of symptoms and signs and also be aware of programs—with the community mental health, we need to reach out in the community.”
Education, community, and leadership. All key ingredients for ensuring mental health is a priority and that suicide awareness, prevention, and intervention are part of any and all strategies whether it’s in the healthcare field or elsewhere.
To hear our fourth podcast episode, listen here and watch the site each Tuesday for new episodes. Next up, Episode 5 “First on the Scene” where host Kim Borrowdale talks to Paul Bertrand, retired from the FBI and current instructor at their academy and Andy Chapman, retired police officer and hostage negotiator and current Suicide Prevention Lead at the City of York in the UK.