Second suicide crisis nurse apppointed — will meet clients at GP’s surgery within days of referral

A second suicide crisis assessment nurse has been appointed to the Galway and Roscommon Mental Health Services.

Lynn Monaghan, who took up the position last week, says it will reach out to people in crisis and help them resolve the issues which led to them feeling overwhelmed.

The service will provide support to GPs and patients who are experiencing difficulties and have thoughts of suicide.

Family doctors will access the service by mobile phone which will allow for speedy referral and an immediate discussion of the case.

Following referral and discussion with the GP, the nurse will arrange to see the client at the doctor’s surgery within days. The patient will have a full bio-psychosocial assessment, identifying risk factors and supports and ending with an agreed plan of care aimed at alleviating the crisis and supporting longer term stability.

Catherine Cunningham, Galway Roscommon Area manager, says the majority of people experiencing mental health problems visit their GPs and will remain exclusively under their care.

“People are generally much more comfortable with being seen in this environment. However in the past GPs had no other choice but to refer individuals with mental health problems to specialist mental health services. These are often based in the local hospital, with individuals often uncomfortable or unwilling to engage. This new SCAN service allows GPs to get professional, specialist mental health advice for their patient in the GP practice or the patient’s home - a major development for patients with mental health difficulties.”

Speaking about her new post, Lynn Monahan said most people experience difficult periods in their life.

“Bereavement or relationship difficulties are examples of occasions when emotions become raw and individuals can find it hard to cope. In most of these instances people find the reserves of strength to cope with these challenges and this is entirely normal.”

There are times however when life’s difficulties can severely challenge our ability to cope and people can become overwhelmed with these emotions.

“One in four people are affected by mental health difficulties at some point in their lives, and it is also common during these times for people to feel that life isn’t worth living or experience suicidal thoughts. Such thoughts can be extremely frightening and confusing for the individual and their loved ones, and it is during these times that external professional support can be most helpful.

“An individual in crisis can feel that they have lost control, can find it hard to think clearly about a situation, decision making can be difficult, and the individual may not see a way out. The SCAN is in a position to quickly engage with the individual, help bring clarity to the situation, and begin the process of finding solutions and resolving the crisis.”

Shaun Smith was the first suicide crisis assessment nurse to be appointed to Galway and Roscommon Mental Health Services. He took up his appointment at Galway University Hospitals in February.

The positions are key posts that are being implemented as part of the reconfiguration of mental health services in Galway/Roscommon. Its goal is to ensure better mental health services for people living in Galway and Roscommon. In future most mental health services will be delivered in a community setting where people can be treated more appropriately and effectively, according to the HSE West. This will reduce the numbers of people requiring admission to acute inpatient units and will allow patients to be treated in their own homes and communities.

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