How a Letter of Hope is helping people experiencing a mental health crisis

People living with mental health illnesses who are experiencing thoughts of suicide are being offered advice and support designed to give them hope and help plan for their future as part of a new project.

NHS mental health staff at Woodlands Centre for Acute Care in Hastings have worked with a group of people who have lived experienced of mental ill health to create ‘A Letter of Hope’. The Letter is a personal message that is sent to people, offering help and hope, and has been created to ensure that people realise they are not alone – even though they may feel at their most lonely.

It’s hoped the message will support people to stop, reflect and think at a time when things are really difficult and hard to cope with.

Woodlands Centre is run by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which provides mental health and learning disability healthcare across Sussex.

Tracy Albrow, Urgent Care Service Manager, said: “Suicide is devastating, especially for families and loved ones but also for colleagues, friends, people under the care of our services and the staff in those services. It touches and affects so many people. We want to build on the suicide prevention work done so far across the Trust and help to achieve better outcomes for people who may be thinking about ending their life.”

A Letter of Hope has already had a positive impact with patients and service users and staff have been overwhelmed with the feedback they have received:

One person said: “I just want to thank you for guiding our Letter of Hope sessions. I have found them one of the best led, all inclusive, empowering sessions. Everyone was treated with respect, and we felt listened to.”

Another added: “I think our most valuable contribution to the Letter of Hope is the fact that we acknowledge that we have all been in this position ourselves, and we are reaching out in the most genuine way we can. We will also be offering further practical support in the form of contact numbers and places to go. It has been valuable to share, and to realise that our experience may just help someone else.”

“It has been uplifting experience being involved with the project and working closely together.” said another service user.

Anyone who may be having thoughts and/or urges about hurting themselves or ending their life, or if you are worried about someone else who may be having these thoughts and feelings, go to any hospital A&E department and ask for help. Alternatively you can talk to the Samaritans on 116123 at any time or download our Stay Alive app - a pocket suicide prevention resource, full of information which we hope will help you stay safe. Stay Alive can be downloaded for free on Android and iOS.