Reflecting on lived experience: Suicide prevention and the importance of social work in mental health

Behiye Ali, Barbara Staniforth, Carole Adamson

Abstract


INTRODUCTION: National suicide prevention strategies and action plans have, historically, been written without input from consumers/current users of mental health services. People who could arguably be seen as experts in this area are rarely asked for their knowledge regarding the efficacy of suicide prevention and intervention efforts. The aims of this study were to gain further insight into the effectiveness of suicide prevention intervention in Aotearoa New Zealand by asking service users “What works?” and to promote lived experience as a valid form of evidence. This article focuses on the importance of a holistic model of health and wellbeing and highlights the role played by social workers, both currently and in the future, regarding suicide prevention and intervention efforts.

METHODS: Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals with lived experience of suicidal ideation and/or attempt.

FINDINGS: Using thematic analysis, a variety of interventions were identified which participants found effective, including exercise, addressing physical health needs, practising mindfulness, use of medications and spirituality. These interventions, and others, are presented as themes within a framework of people, body, mind and spirit.

CONCLUSIONS: It is important to view health holistically, and social workers can make an important contribution towards wellbeing through the provision of psychosocial interventions. Also, it is crucial to involve individuals with lived experience within research that informs policy and practice, and within collaborative treatment decisions.


Keywords


Suicide prevention; suicide interventions; lived experience; what works; psychosocial interventions; holistic model

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol33iss2id861

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