Library throws the book at male suicide rates

Two groups based at Mowbray Gardens Library & Community Hub in Rotherham have been successful in bidding for NHS funding to run sessions aimed at improving mental health and preventing suicide.

Mowbray Gardens Library and Community Hub is located in the East Dene area of Rotherham where figures show an above average incidence of suicide among middle aged men. Two existing groups realised that, with some adaptation and tweaking, they would be able to deliver key messages and support to the target group.

Rotherham Flourish, which uses creative writing, poetry and art to help people with low level mental health issues, has developed a course to introduce discussion on feelings of extreme despair and suicide. Key messages will be given out to highlight the support available from a range of specialist partner organisations and a drive undertaken, with help from the three library staff, to recruit local men from the at risk group to the sessions.

The Buddies project has seen a group of men who meet at the library extend the scope of their sessions to include conversations about managing feelings when they feel their situation is hopeless and despondency takes hold. The importance of talking, maintaining social contacts and how to develop coping strategies will be discussed. How to identify and tackle the cause of upset – e.g. bereavement, ill health, financial worries, etc. – will also be covered. Local organisations who can help - such as LASER Credit Union, Cruse and Relate - will be invited to come and meet the Buddies, to discuss their services and how they can help.

A range of activities will be used to engage the men. These will include working with the local wildlife trust, visits to museums and exhibitions and watching theme-relevant films in the library with discussions about them afterwards. This will help to draw in new people from the target group. Referrals will also be made to both groups by partners at Stag and Rose Court Medical Centres and JobcentrePlus.

To help support and add to the projects, the library has obtained 500 cards from the Samaritans. These are being issued as free bookmarks to customers as they take out books to further help inform and remind people that ‘a stumble in the road should not be the end of the journey!'

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