The Connecting with People (CwP) Approach

Connecting with People (CwP) was developed in the United Kingdom by 4 Mental Health Limited and has been adapted for delivery in Australia. The CwP training approach is designed to improve the response given to people in distress or at risk of suicide. CwP is informed by evidence-based principles, lived experience and clinical expertise and aims to increase the use of a compassionate approach, reduce stigma and enhance participants’ ability to compassionately respond to someone who has suicidal thoughts or following self-harm.

Underpinning CwP is a philosophy that suicide is not inevitable. CwP offers a new narrative that moves away from characterising, quantifying and managing risk, towards placing greater focus upon compassion, safeguarding and co-designed safety plans. CwP offers a clinical governance framework and the appropriate tools (including the SAFE-Tool) to build knowledge and understanding, and confidence to support people in suicidal distress.

CwP offers a common language to describe the nature and intent of suicidal thoughts, enabling greater clarity, accuracy and consistency between clinicians, consumers, families, carers and organisations, as well as improving the quality of documentation.

Tasmania has invested in accredited trainers to deliver the CwP approach to suicide mitigation and response. Trainers have been drawn from various agencies and areas including the health department, justice, education, corrections, mental health consumers and carers, child and youth services, primary care and first responders.

The Suicide Prevention Workforce Development and Training Plan for Tasmania 2016-2020 provide the policy context for the delivery of the training.

The CwP training program in Tasmania consists of seven modules which can be delivered flexibly and independently of each other, depending upon the needs of the organisation or team. There is no requirement to complete all modules. Each module takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete.

The seven modules are: Suicide Awareness, Suicide Response Part 1, Suicide Response Part 2, Self-Harm Awareness and Self-Harm Response, Emotional Resilience and Compassion at Work.

Tasmania’s accredited trainers are licensed by 4MH to provide free training to different sectors including government-funded health and community services, education, police, ambulance and correctional services, and the primary and aged care sectors. Training is also available to build suicide awareness, compassion and emotional resilience within the workplace as part of a broader mental health and wellbeing strategy.

The CwP approach is supported by Tasmania’s Chief Psychiatrist, Dr Aaron Groves, and has been endorsed by the Statewide Mental Health Services Executive for implementation across public mental health services.

CwP Training Opportunities

CwP training is being delivered statewide. To find out more about training in your area, please view the Connecting with People training schedule or alternatively contact the Mental Health Alcohol and Drug Directorate on 6166 0774 or via email director.mhadd@health. tas.gov.au.

For further information on the CwP approach please contact Jane Austin, Principal Policy Officer, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Directorate, in the Tasmanian Department of Health on 6166 0769 or via email jane.austin@health.tas.gov.au.