February 22, 2024

South West News

South West News from Gloucestershire to Cornwall

Mental Health Awareness Week: Demand for ‘Orange Button’ suicide prevention training soars in Cornwall

A scheme that enables trained volunteers to help people having suicidal thoughts is becoming increasingly popular in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

More than 1,500 volunteers have already signed up to wear an Orange Button badge, which signals to anyone struggling with their mental health that they are suicide aware and ready to listen.

The ‘Orange Button Community Scheme’ launched in September 2021 with the aim of creating an army of advisors spread across our communities.

Orange Button Scheme. Could you help someone in mental health crisis?

The idea is to make people who have already received mental health and suicide prevention training more visible to those who need help.

As more and more people start to hear about the Orange Button scheme, enquiries and demand for the training have started to soar.

This is why Healthy Cornwall – part of Cornwall Council – have now put on extra training sessions to allow more people to become Orange Button badge holders.

To become a badge holder people need to have completed one of the following Quality Assured training courses:

  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Mental Health First Aid Youth
  • ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training)
  • Suicide First Aid

Details on the scheme and how to access the above training can be found on the Council’s Orange Button web page.

The Orange Button scheme is led by Cornwall Council and NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board (ICB).

Cllr Dr Andy Virr, Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health at Cornwall Council, said:

“It’s great to see that the Orange Button scheme is proving so popular in Cornwall and people’s mental health and wellbeing are a top priority for our communities.

“The training on offer is invaluable and could genuinely save someone’s life. I would urge anyone interested to check out our Orange Button webpage and sign up.”

Paula Chappell, Public Health Practitioner and suicide prevention lead in Cornwall’s Public Health team, said:

“Statistics show that over recent years less than a third of people who took their own lives had contact with mental health services in the 12 months before their death. This shows there is a real need for members of our communities to learn active listening skills and know where to find signposting information to share.

“Schemes like the Orange Button are vital to support people who might be suffering in silence. The more we can break the stigma around mental health and empower people to speak openly and honestly about their feelings, the better for everyone.”

Tim Francis, Associate Director of Strategic Commissioning: Mental Health, Learning Disability and Autism at the ICB, said:

“It’s fantastic to see how the Orange Button scheme has developed across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Seeing colleagues from across various sectors stepping forward to take up some brief training, and then offer themselves up for a conversation, is truly inspiring and testament to a commitment to make mental health and wellbeing, everyone’s business”.

Statistics show the rate of suicide deaths in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is consistently higher than the national average.

Hundreds of people receive mental health training each year – for example through workplace schemes – but before the Orange Button scheme was launched there was no way for a member of the public to identify who has been trained, and therefore who to approach for advice and support.

For more information check out the Council’s Orange Button webpage.

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s mental health call the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s 24/7 NHS mental health response line on 0800 038 5300. It’s free to access by anyone, any age, any time, day or night.

Press release issued on May 15, 2023.