3. Action 2: Modernising the Content and Accessibility of Training
3.1 The engagement process asked five questions relating to the second action, about the content and accessibility of training in suicide prevention. Just over 8 out of ten respondents who answered question 2a agreed that a new mental health and suicide prevention training programme should be developed (see Table 3). A total of 229 respondents followed up by giving an explanation of their answer to question 2b, which largely focused on two themes: current and future training arrangements.
Table 3: Responses to Question 2a - Do you agree that we should develop a new mental health and suicide prevention training programme?
Note: 97% of respondents (n=280) answered this question.
Current Training Arrangements
3.2 Respondents generally had a positive view of the current training arrangements, and praised programmes such as ASIST, LivingWorks, SafeTALK, STORM and Mental Health First Aid. There were concerns over what would happen to existing trainers if there was a decision to replace these programmes. On the other hand, there was a sense that existing training needed to be modernised and refreshed, with some respondents commenting that it was out of date. A handful of individual respondents were also critical of what they perceived to be a traditional or clinical approach to current training.
Future Training Arrangements
3.3 Many of the respondents suggested a need to develop some new training methods, regardless of whether the current arrangements continued or changed. One of the most common suggestions for improvement was for training resources (including video clips) to be updated and tailored to a Scottish context. It was acknowledged that any new training suite must be backed up by adequate funding and resources. A number of respondents expressed a desire for parity of mental and physical health in regards to training provision. Some respondents called for a more uniform, consistent approachto training delivery, while others felt there should be more flexibility, believing current training arrangements were too rigid in how they could be delivered.
3.4 Many respondents suggested that there should be wider access to training, with some adding that training opportunities need to be affordableand better advertised. Some respondents felt that training delivery sits best within healthcare, while others called for more integrated delivery between agencies.
3.5 With regards to the content of the training, most respondents stressed that any training should: increase participants' understanding of suicide; provide practical help and advice on suicide prevention; and better equip people to help those who are suicidal. Many commented on the need to specifically address the stigma associated with suicide within training programmes. Some also called for the training to cover the suicide risks regarding mental health prescription drugs and medicine withdrawal.In addition,some individuals felt there was a greater need for training for crisis and for earlier interventions to prevent a crisis situation. Some respondents suggested involving people with lived experience in developing new training programmes or materials.Another suggestion was that training should be evidence-based.
Mandatory Training for Specific Professional Groups
3.6 Question 2c asked respondents the extent to which they agreed there should be mandatory suicide prevention training for specific professional groups. A total of 276 respondents answered this question and 209 provided an explanation of their answer (question 2d). Nine out of ten (n=248) agreed or strongly agreed. However, 12 disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 16 neither agreed nor disagreed.
3.7 A number of respondents mentioned professional groups that they thought should receive mandatory suicide prevention training. The most commonly cited group were healthcare workers, particularly GPs, nurses and mental health professionals. Some respondents specifically mentioned that suicide prevention should be part of all medical students' training. Another common suggestion was frontline service staff, such as social services staff and emergency services staff and first responders, who may interact with people thinking about suicide. Other suggestions included staff working in schools and the care sector. One popular view was that training should be tiered, depending on the level of suicide prevention knowledge and skills required.
3.8 While not always specified as mandatory, some felt that public facing services, such as publicans, taxi drivers, hairdressers and beauty therapists could benefit from suicide prevention training, which would embed suicide prevention in the community. Another popular suggestion was to offer training within communities directly. There were also calls for increased employer engagement with suicide prevention training, including in the private sector. Finally, several respondents made the more general comment that a wider spectrum of people should have access to training, without specifying any specific groups. Indeed, it appears that some selected disagree for this reason.
Concerns About Mandatory Training
3.9 A number of concerns were noted regarding mandatory suicide prevention training for specific groups. By far the biggest concern was the resource/capacity implications, with uncertainty around the value and effectiveness of the mandatory aspect. Several respondents questioned the value of delivering mandatory training to everyone within select professional groups, and suggested that there may be more value in targeting particular members of staff. There was also a concern that introducing mandatory training for specific professional groups may detract from the message that suicide prevention is everyone's responsibility. Some respondents believed that the emphasis should be on raising awareness within the wider population.
Further Suggested Improvements
3.10 A total of 152 respondents provided additional comments about training in response to question 2e. Much of this repeated the responses to earlier questions, although some new themes also emerged.
3.11 One of the most common suggestions for improving future suicide prevention training was to provide resources in multiple media formats, including online. However, some also noted that face-to-face training was important and should not be lost. There was a large proportion of respondents requesting more resources.
3.12 A large number of respondents underlined the importance of widening training access and accessibility. Suggestions included making training more accessible to disabled people, delivering training in everyday language and avoiding clinical terminology.
3.13 There were significant comments made in regards to the "targeting of specific groups" including young males, people suffering from chronic pain, those on medication, LGBT communities, alcohol and substance users and those on the autistic spectrum. Training in schools and prioritising youthwere seen as important areas in re-shaping the training programme.
Email: Katie Godfrey