–”Self-harm can be prevented, and everyone has a role to play.”–”Self-harm can be prevented, and everyone has a role to play.”

Hearing the words “self-harm” may give people goosebumps. It can be said that almost everyone knows someone that has struggled or attempted to follow through with self-harm, and that is why being trained on how to prevent self-harm is so important. One organization that is committed to upskilling people and helping them understand how to interact with individuals that may be struggling with their mental health is LivingWorks, and it is an organization that everyone should familiarize themselves with.

LivingWorks was started in Canada in the early 1980s and it is recognized for their wellbeing training programs for both families and organization. They are the world leader in self-harm prevention training solutions and their integrated training programs focus on creating networks of safety for those in crisis. There key training programs are suicideTALK, safeTALK, ASIST, and suicide to Hope, and these training programs prepare people of all backgrounds and experience levels to make their schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods safer from self-harm outcomes.

When I wrote the article “At the Crossroads Between Mental Health and Religion” back in 2022, the article was the result of finding out that a member of my ethnic community had followed through with self-harming themselves, and how they were denied having traditional funeral arrangements. Worst of all, our “religious leaders” refused to send out a basic notice of the tragic loss of life. It was at that moment that I decided that I wanted to be trained in crisis interactions, and I also happened to come across a social media post from Distress Centre Ottawa (DCO) that stated how they were seeking out volunteers to work their crisis phonelines. It made sense for me to want to get trained in self-harm prevention training solutions, since I had known quite a few individuals that had tried to self-harm themselves, with the first being over a decade ago.

The DCO was offering to provide volunteers with invaluable training that would go a long way in person-to-person interactions, and volunteering with a self-harm prevention hotline was an experience that Chris Voss recommended to all readers in his book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. So, I connected with the organization, and I explained my reasons for wanting to contribute, but DCO informed me that this was not a volunteer opportunity for the general public and that individuals needed to have specific backgrounds in order to participate. To say that I was not impressed with their response would be an understatement because that is not what their social media post had stated. Instead, I asked the DCO to connect me with an organization that offered training programs on self-harm to members of the “general public”. And that is how I came to learn about LivingWorks.

After going through LivingWorks training program, I can say that their training program did a good job in removing the discomfort with approaching people about issues that have serious health implications. One of my key takeaways from the program revolved around the TASC model. The “T” stands for “Tune into the possibility…”. The “A” stands for “Ask about…”. The “S” stands for “State the seriousness of…”. The “C” stands for “Connect to help…”. By the end of the program, you are also provided access to a centralized database for supports should you ever need them.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

In the past ten years we have seen a significant emphasis placed on mental health and wellbeing, ranging from life at home to life at work. However, one of the biggest challenges for most people is figuring out how to talk about health and wellness, and potentially reaching out to friends or family members they may be concerned about. Although there is no single approach that guarantees success when it comes to talking about mental health with someone, there are principles that have been shown to work when it comes to serious issues like self-harm. If you want become better at detecting health struggles and improving health outcomes, then I recommend you visit register for LivingWorks training programs.