Lifting the Mask on Mental Health
Paul’s Place, a part of Beacon Counselling Trust, provides free counselling services to those who have been bereaved by suicide. It is a postvention service, but also acts as a form of prevention from the well-known domino effect that suicide has on those left behind. It is currently the only service of its type that exists anywhere in Merseyside.
Mental health issues are, finally, making their way into the public sphere: people are becoming more aware of the massive range of problems that come under mental health, and are beginning to understand how debilitating these issues can be. That being said, there is still a long way to go to get more people talking about their mental health, and ending the stigma that surrounds it.
Over the past few years, the suicide rate has massively increased, and three-quarters of all registered suicides are men. The grief of those left behind can last a lifetime, and is different to non-suicide bereavement as there are so many unanswered questions, and nobody seems to understand why. Receiving the right support from services such as Paul’s Place can make all the difference.
Back in March, Alt Valley hosted a charity Masquerade Ball at the Shankly Hotel, to raise money for Paul’s Place. The event was organised by Sharon Lee, manager of Ellergreen Community Centre. Suicide and bereavement from suicide is a subject very close to Sharon’s heart: in August 2014, she tragically lost her 17-year-old nephew to suicide, and then her 17-year-old niece five weeks later in September 2014.
Sharon’s inspiration to do a masquerade ball as a fundraiser came from the idea that mental health and wellbeing is not always visible to the naked eye. People often suffer in silence, and hide behind a façade; they can be the life and soul of the party, the class clown, the shoulder to cry on. This means the shock is all the more difficult to come to terms with when they take their own life.
The evening included a drinks reception, a three-course sit-down meal, speeches, a raffle, and live entertainment from local Liverpool band Free Spirit, with Lee Butler rounding off the night with a DJ set. The event was a great success, raising £2,138.10 for Paul’s Place, but also generating awareness around suicide and mental health.
Norris Green councillors sponsored a table for local residents who have been bereaved through suicide, and from this, a support group is being set up. The group will be run by local people whose lives have been affected by suicide, and will offer a friendly space for people to come together and connect with each other. The group will also look at other fundraising activities to support suicide charities, as well as promoting a better understanding of mental health and suicide bereavement.
The services at Paul’s Place are available for free to anyone 16+ who has suffered bereavement from suicide. To get in touch, call 0151 226 0696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.