A mental health and suicide prevention charity providing vital services to people living in the north of Scotland has launched a new campaign to engage the community in time for World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10).
Mikeysline – headquartered in Inverness, and providing services across the Highlands and Moray – is looking for individuals who want to ‘Bee the Change’ in their community and help destigmatise conversations around mental health and suicide.
The launch of the new initiative follows publication of statistics this week by the National Records of Scotland, indiciating that suicide rates in the Highlands remain above the national average and are amongst the highest in Scotland.
A total of 52 cases of probable suicide were recorded in the Highlands in 2022 – up from 49 in 2021.
However, these figures must be looked at in context – as they are still lower than those of 2019.
Mikeysline CEO Emily Stokes said:
“The sad news this week that suicide rates in the Highlands remain higher than the national average emphasises, once again, that although much is being done, there is still more that we can all do to reach those who need support in a time of great need.
“Although talking about how we feel has become a bigger part of many people’s lives, there’s still a perceived taboo around the topic for many people.
“The more we can change that collective mindset, the easier it will be for people to reach out when they are struggling – before a time of crisis.
“Suicides are not inevitable and we can all be part of a change in making a difference.”
The Bee the Change initiative will incorporate the charity’s former community champion and youth champion programmes, bringing all community outreach under the same umbrella, backed by new resources and support from the charity.
Now Bee the Change Community, School and Workplace Champions will help spread the word about Mikeysline’s activity.
“As a grassroots mental health charity, we receive no government funding, so we have always relied on the good will of the people in our community to help spread our message.
“That support keeps us going year on year, and now we’re formalising things through our Bee the Change Champions – giving our community advocates and supporters the tools they need to help let people know that it’s ok not to be ok, and that help is available to those who need it.
“We’re always on the lookout for people who want to help spread the word about looking after our mental health.
“Anyone interested in becoming a Bee the Change Champion to support their community can head to www.mikeysline.co.uk/get-involved/bee-the-change to find out more.”
Mikeysline’s community outreach activities encourage adults and young people to get involved in their workplaces, schools and communities to signpost Mikeysline’s text-based and face-to-face support services, and encourage people to look after their mental health.
Twelve-year-old Niamh Ross is one of the charity’s newest Bee the Change School Champions.
Already winning gold medals in international and world martial arts championships, she hopes to use her place in the community to help spread Mikeysline’s message.
“As a Bee the Change School Champion for Mikeysline, I want to use my platform in martial arts to make a positive impact on the world and help others.
“I aim to inspire and support others, particularly young people in the Highlands.
“I want people to know that it’s ok not to be ok, and that it’s ok to ask for help.
“Nobody should suffer alone out of shame.
“I want to help remove the stigma that surrounds mental health, and spread kindness.”
Since 2015, Mikeysline has offered confidential, non-judgemental support to people of all ages dealing with mental health issues, emotional distress or thoughts of suicide in the Highlands and Moray.
It does this via a text line service at 07786 207755; WhatsApp at 01463 729000 and via its website; and live chat, Twitter and Messenger via its website.
The charity also produces a popular podcast, Speaking of Suicide; provides supports for businesses; works closely with teachers and pupils in schools across the north of Scotland; and offers face-to-face support in Hives across the region – at its Inverness headquarters, and in Alness and Nairn.
Here, service users can engage in one-to-one support, or join in group sessions for adults, men, families and school communities.