From education to employment

University of Chester lecture to explore the challenges of supporting people at risk of self harm and suicide

Andrew Reeves

In the social media age, it has never been easier for people to access information and support networks to help with their mental wellbeing. 

But despite the abundance of platforms promoting positive mental health, are we still able to have meaningful conversations outside of the online world, whether that is with people we share our daily lives with or the healthcare professionals who look after our needs? 

How can we explain the fears around speaking about our mental health, and how do we approach the subject of suicide? These are some of the themes that Professor Andrew Reeves will discuss in his inaugural professorial lecture at the University of Chester this week. 

The lecture, titled A Risky Business: From Science to the Relationship in Supporting People at Risk of Harm will look at the importance of meaningful conversations around mental health and beyond. 

It comes in the wake of the recently updated Self harm: assessment, management and preventing recurrence guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The new guidelines, aimed at those collaborating with people at risk of suicide and self-harm, emphasise the important of talking about risk, rather than relying on questionnaires. They stipulate that all professionals working across health and social care have a role to play in supporting people who self-harm and the issue should not just be seen as the responsibility of mental health specialists. 

Andrew, Professor of Counselling Professions and Mental Health in the University’s Department of Social and Political Science, says:

“In this talk I aim to offer a personal and professional account of the challenges in supporting people at risk of suicide. 

“From my early career, beginning as a volunteer with Samaritans at aged 18, through my work as a social worker and therapist, risk has dominated my professional relationships, my research, my writing, my thinking and my life. 

“The increasing dominance of risk assessment tools – an attempt to bring some objectivity to assessment – has, unhelpfully, overshadowed the most important work which is the subjective experience of being in relationship with another.” 

The lecture takes place from 6.30pm at the University of Chester’s Exton Park Campus on Thursday, January 26, in the Anna Sutton Building. It will also be live streamed.

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