Revitalising Lambeth’s suicide prevention strategy in light of the impact of COVID, as well as shaping support around anxiety and depression for those most affected by the pandemic are on the priorities list for Margherita Sweetlove, the council’s new Public Health Specialist in Mental Health & Wellbeing Adult & Health.
Margherita who is from Italy joins Lambeth council after four years with the public health team in Enfield – firstly as a health intelligence analyst. “I then had the opportunity to work on health in all policies for a year as a maternity secondment. As the health in all policies officer I worked with colleagues in the council and with partner organisations to ensure that health was included in all decisions. I also worked on the food poverty strategy and action plan, social prescribing projects, MECC (Making Every Contact Count)* training and the healthy workplace strategy.”
Now the work begins in Lambeth. “We had our suicide prevention partnership meeting recently and it was a very useful discussion around partners’ experiences in the past year.” (In 2019 it was reported that in Lambeth two residents a month die from suicide). “All partners reported an increase in demand for mental health support. Following the discussion we agreed to focus the suicide prevention work on the following:
· Economic insecurities
· Children & Young People
· Older people
· Black communities
· Support for voluntary sector partners
“This is still early days but we are keen to scale up the work quickly.”
Joining a new team during the pandemic has “definitely been different!”, adds Margherita. “ It felt a bit odd to send people emails to book meetings to have conversations I would normally have had just walking over to their desk. But everyone has been really lovely and welcoming and made the whole process easier.”
Following a presentation to the Lambeth Collaborative on anxiety and depression (see link below) Margherita says she’s had some interesting follow up conversations and was able to attend the Carers strategy workshop as a result. “We’re working to develop a plan of support for groups who have been particularly affected by the pandemic.
“I am a mental health champion at Lambeth council, this is a voluntary support role for staff who might need to have a chat or want to receive more information on how to manage their wellbeing.”
World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10
You can view Margherita’s Anxiety and Depression slideshow below:
*MECC – an approach to behaviour change that uses the millions of day-to-day interactions that organisations and people have with other people to support them in making positive changes to their physical and mental health and wellbeing.