Adapting Digital Social Prescribing for Suicide Bereavement Support

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Adapting digital social prescribing for suicide bereavement support Principle Investigator: Dr Karen Galway, Lecturer in Mental Health, Queen’s University Belfast Co-Investigators: Dr Sharon Mallon, Lecturer (Mental Health) Open University Dr Paul Best, Lecturer in Social Work, QUB Dr Olinda Santin, Lecturer in Health Sciences, QUB Collaborators: Dr Alexandra Pitman, University College London, Professor Gerry Leavey, Ulster University Aim This partnership project aims to adapt Elemental Software’s digital social prescribing platform to meet the needs of people bereaved by suicide. Families and friends in the aftermath of suicide endure multiple, difficulties with an increased risk of family break-down and mental health problems,2 this can be coupled with a reluctance to seek help.3 In Northern Ireland, previous findings indicate that families and GPs are uncertain about role, function and effectiveness of the support that is offered1. Improved outcomes-based reporting is needed to link people to the right kind of support and assist commissioners with funding allocation. Methods Digital social prescribing links people to services and can monitor outcomes. Benefits include improved connectedness and empowerment5. Elemental software has recently been introduced in mental health contexts but has not yet been considered for people bereaved by suicide. Using a co-production approach, we are adapting the system for people bereaved by suicide. Results We have identified partners across Northern Ireland, delivered a series of demonstrations and hosted a workshop with service providers, advocate groups and commissioners to discuss the mechanics of engaging in a research trial of digital social prescribing. By working together to identify challenges and solutions we are establishing appropriate methods including roles, recruitment, randomisation and outcome measures. Conclusion The development of a digital social prescribing platform has the potential to accelerate the translation of research findings about the needs of those bereaved by suicide, into provision of improved care and support. References 1. Leavey, G., Galway, K., Hughes L., Mallon S. Rondon, J., Rosato M. Understanding Suicide and Help-seeking in Urban and Rural Areas in Northern Ireland. Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Ulster University (2016). 2. Leavey, G. et al. The failure of suicide prevention in primary care: Family and GP perspectives - a qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry 17, (2017). 3. Leavey, G. et al. Patterns and predictors of help-seeking contacts with health services and general practitioner detection of suicidality prior to suicide: A cohort analysis of suicides occurring over a two-year period. BMC Psychiatry 16, (2016). 4. Mallon, S. & Galway, K. Towards an Understanding of the Role of Bereavement in the Pathway to Suicide. (2015). 5. The King’s Fund. What is Social Prescribing? Available at: (Accessed: 26th November 2017) 6. Craig, P. et al. Developing and evaluating complex interventions : new guidance. BMJ 337, a1655 (2008).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2018


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