Campaign aims to address mental health trauma among Grenfell community
A suicide awareness drive is being launched in the Grenfell Tower neighbourhood amid mounting concern about the disaster’s psychological fallout.
Kensington and Chelsea Council is spearheading the Ok Not To Feel Ok campaign alongside health agencies and charities, in an effort to encourage people to speak about mental health.
Figures from last year suggested as many as 11,000 witnesses to the tragedy could require treatment for problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Experts believe many of those left mentally scarred might not have come forward, while the recent one-year anniversary could have made suffering more pronounced.
Information about available support will be provided to North Kensington residents through posters, flyers, a social media account and a new website, the authority announced.
Residents in the north of the borough are among the poorest in the country, putting them at increased risk of mental illness and suicide compared to those in the most affluent areas.
The NHS, Mind, Samaritans and Public Health England are also working on the council-funded campaign.
Dr Jai Shree Adhyaru, team lead for the NHS Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service’s Trauma Clinic for Children & Young People, a service set up in the wake of the fire, told the Press Association: “I worry that people have not sought help for a number of reasons.
“I worry some people think that they were not directly impacted, that they haven’t been affected. I worry that some people feel that others deserve help more.
“I worry that the anniversary may have triggered things for people, it might be Grenfell but actually the anniversary of Grenfell might trigger other things – Grenfell isn’t the only fire that happened in the last year, it is probably not the only cause of bereavement that people have experienced, but it is a very poignant mark in our calendar that might bring forth other feelings for people.”
But she added: “We have no evidence of an increase in suicidal ideation or attempts since the fire, we have kept a very close eye on this because obviously there is concern for everybody.”
The information will be mailed directly to all those affected by the fire, while online others are directed to support including NHS and Samaritan hotlines.
Dr Adhyaru said: “For suicide prevention, we know the sense of feeling emotionally trapped is a really core feature of suicidal ideation, or having suicidal thoughts.
“Just by telling yourself that you’re not feeling OK and that is OK, we want people to see that ending it isn’t the only option that you have.
“We hope the campaign mobilises people into seeking support but also other people recognising the signs in others.”
More information about the campaign can be found at www.oknottofeelok.org, on Twitter @grenfellsupport and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/oknottofeelok/
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.