Greater Manchester has launched a new campaign to improve mental wellbeing and raise awareness of self-harm as an issue affecting older people. The new campaign ‘Don’t Brush It Under the Carpet’, which was launched today (Tuesday 1st March) during a Greater Manchester Ambition for Ageing event, aims to reach and support older residents who may be struggling with their mental wellbeing to talk to someone to help them get the right support for them.
The campaign also aims to raise awareness of self-harm as an issue for both younger and older residents, to increase knowledge amongst all those who may be able to help an older resident who is struggle, such as carers, family members and health professionals.
Older people who self-harm are at 67 times greater risk of suicide than the general older population and three times greater than the relative risk of suicide among younger people who self-harm.
Similarly, research shows that although self-harm rates are lower among older adults compared to rates in the younger population, suicide rates in older adults are significantly higher. The World Health Organization research found that suicide rates were highest in people aged over 70 in almost all regions of the world.
Polly Kaiser, Consultant Clinical Psychologist Oldham and Clinical Lead Older Peoples’ psychological therapies, Pennine Care said: “These statistics debunk myths that self-harm is an issue only for young people. We know that recovery rates are very positive for older people accessing treatment. Poor mental wellbeing is not an inevitable part of ageing and this campaign is important in raising societal awareness of this and encouraging older people to seek help and not ‘brush it under the carpet’.”
The campaign, which has been funded by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and builds on their existing suicide prevention campaign, Shining a Light on Suicide, has been co-produced by a working group made up of representatives from the Shining a Light on Suicide Campaign, Greater Manchester Older People’s Network, Greater Manchester Ageing Hub, health professionals and a focus group of older residents.
Judd Skelton, Chair of Greater Manchester Suicide Prevention Programme Board said: “This campaign is vital in raising awareness of the issue of self-harm in older people, the message is simple, if you or someone you know is struggling with their mental wellbeing, help is out there, the first step to feeling better is talking to someone.
“Last year, the Greater Manchester Suicide Prevention Programme Board identified self-harm in older people as a significant issue in need of mitigation. This campaign will help us begin to address the issue and support more residents who are struggling.”
The Shining a Light on Suicide Campaign, which is delivered by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, aims to bring the issue of suicide out of the dark to break the stigma that surrounds it, following research showing that talking honestly about suicide helps save lives.
The new ‘Don’t Brush It Under the Carpet’ campaign is themed around common phrases and sayings that the older people attending the campaign focus groups felt those within the target audience would be familiar with and relate to capture their attention, while encouraging them to talk to someone about how they are feeling, such as a ‘problem shared is a problem halved’.
You can find out more about the campaign and the support available to residents on the campaign webpage: Older People | Shining a Light on Suicide
Tell a friend, family member or someone you trust how you are feeling.
Your GP can arrange for you to receive support from the right services. If you need support out of hours call NHS 111
Join Mind’s online community Side by Side, it’s an online space where you can listen, share and be heard. Visit sidebyside.mind.org.uk
Whatever you are going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. They are there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
 Suicide risk for older people who self-harm (manchester.ac.uk) University of Manchester, 2012)
 Preventing Suicide a Global Imperative, World Health Organization 2014