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Talking About Suicide

man rests his head on his hands as he talks to someone about suicide

This year has been particularly difficult for all of us; the pandemic and months of lockdown restrictions have had a massive impact on our daily lives as well as our mental health. This is a lot to cope with and it is understandable that many of us are struggling with our mental health and wellbeing or facing challenges in life.

Talking About Suicide

Many of us are affected by suicide or suicidal feelings throughout our lives. Even though mental health awareness has increased in recent years, talking about suicide is still widely stigmatised. Too many of us suffer in silence.

“I couldn’t see past the pain. It was a different reality for me. I only knew I wanted the pain to stop, the anguish to go away.”

It can be scary talking to someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts, but it really can make a difference.

How can I support someone in a crisis?

If someone tells you they are experiencing suicidal thoughts, always take them seriously.

Ask open questions – this invites them to answer more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’, for example, ‘How are you feeling?’ or ‘What happened next?’

Try not to judge – it’s important not to blame the person or give your own opinion on the situation.

Give them time and listen – be patient, as it has probably been very difficult for them to open up to you.

Don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions – being direct lets the person know they can talk freely about how they’re feeling. Ask ‘Are you having suicidal thoughts?’ or ‘Have you felt like you want to end your life?’

If you need urgent assistance…

  • Contact your GP surgery
  • Contact Central North West London NHS Trust’s Single Point of Access (SPA) – a first point of contact for people experiencing a mental health crisis: 0800 0234 650

If you or someone else that you know is at immediate risk:

  • You can attend Accident & Emergency (A&E)
    • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 369 Fulham Road, London, SW10 9NH
    • The Royal Marsden Hospital, 203 Fulham Road, London SW3 6JJ
    • St Mary’s Hospital, Praed Street, London W2 1NY
  • If you have already taken an overdose or injured yourself, dial 999

Additional support…

Mind has some information you may find helpful, including how you can access treatment and support.

The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year: call free on 116 123.

If you feel you need additional support with anxiety, depression or low mood, our Talking Therapies service may be able to help. Find out more about the service and register.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Talking Therapies
Posted on: 20th April 2021

Spring/Summer 2021 Magazine available now!

Community Living Well magazine Spring 2021 cover image

Spring-Summer Edition 2021 (best for viewing on mobile device)

Spring-Summer Edition 2021 (best for viewing on desktop)

Welcome to the Spring/Summer 2021 edition of Community Living Well magazine. We hope you have continued to stay well during these extremely challenging few months.

We have heard from many of you about how this lockdown has been especially tough. It has been hard to stay positive and motivated, so in this edition we wanted to highlight some simple things that you can do to help.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are five steps you can take which can help to improve your overall wellbeing. We’ve suggested a range of different ways that you can incorporate these steps into your daily lives, depending on how much time you have.

We spoke to Lise, who has recently completed some Talking Therapy (IAPT) sessions. She was keen to share her story as she hoped it would encourage anyone struggling with anxiety or low mood to seek support – you can read about her experience on page 12.


There’s practical information on avoiding burnout at work, advice if you are looking for a new job, plus tips on how you can try to improve your sleep.

If you have any suggestions, features, stories or feedback about the magazine, please contact me, Stewart, at [email protected].

Community Living Well is a mental health service for those registered with a GP in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, or the Queen’s Park and Paddington areas of Westminster. The services on offer include talking therapies, support groups, help with employment and support with debt, housing and benefits issues. Self-referrals can be made here. For more information please call 020 3317 4200.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 12th April 2021

Why am I feeling so tired?

woman feeling tired sitting on the floor resting her head on the bed

If you are feeling tired and sluggish, and finding it hard to motivate yourself to work or keep active, you are not alone!

Last week, The Times highlighted a study published by UCL, which found that we have reached a state of peak demotivation. The UCL Covid-19 Social Study has been following 70,000 people over the past 44 weeks and found that, compared to the first lockdown, most are exercising less and spending less time on enjoyable activities.

In the article, a psychologist explained that this overwhelming feeling of fatigue is a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances.

What can I do about it?

We know we have given similar advice many times before, but following some of these steps may help you to feel better.

1 – Don’t be hard on yourself! As we mentioned earlier, you are not alone in feeling this way. Everyone is feeling the effects of the pandemic in some way or another, so be kind to yourself.

2 – Try to avoid day-dreaming about life before lockdown. Reminiscing about good times you were having before the pandemic can make you feel low in mood, which in turn will reduce your energy levels. Now that some lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, think of your recovery plan – what do you have to look forward to? Meeting up with friends and family, getting your hair cut, picnics in the park – lots to get excited about!

3 – Eat healthy and stay active – we’ve heard it time and time again, but eating junk food and taking no exercise can make us feel extremely tired. Try to limit the amount of comfort food and reset your eating habits. Now the weather is improving, take a daily walk around the block or in your local park.

4 – Put your work away! If you’re working from home, make sure you’re working within your usual working hours. This gives you a structure to your day and sets the boundary between work time and relaxation time.

Additional support

If you are struggling with low mood, anxiety or depression and you feel you need something to change, take a look at the Community Living Well services. Our wellbeing services offer a range of different programmes that may help, depending on your situation.

Find out more about how we can help.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 16th March 2021

Reach out for free talking therapy

Finding this year difficult? We’re here for you. Reach out for free talking therapy in North West London

The Talking Therapies services across North West London Health and Care Partnership are launching a campaign to remind local residents that mental health services are open and here for them during the pandemic and beyond.

Talking Therapies have been running throughout the pandemic, but we know coronavirus has made stress and anxiety more common for people and we want everyone to know this service is here to help them.

Reach out for free talking therapy NHS posterIf you are feeling low, anxious, stressed, depressed or finding it difficult to cope then our teams are here to help. Common difficulties include isolation, bereavement, panic attacks, drinking or eating more and taking drugs. If you’re feeling this way talk to someone before it gets out of hand.

Emotional impact

Some people have experienced these mental health issues for the first time during the pandemic while others have seen them return.

Claire Murdoch, CNWL’s Chief Executive, said “The last year has been unlike any other and the emotional impact of the pandemic on families’ mental health and wellbeing has been huge. If you feel everything is getting on top of you, please talk to us and encourage your family or friends to do so too if you’re concerned. Whatever your age, these therapies help.”

Carolyn Regan, West London NHS Trust Chief Executive, said “We know there are people out there not currently receiving the support they need. Talking Therapies services are easily accessible to everyone and we’re ready to take your call. You will speak to trained clinicians who can quickly help you with your mental health and wellbeing”.

Reach out

Visit and fill in a short online form and our teams will book you in for an appointment to discuss any difficulties you are having and the next steps to take.

There’s no need for you to travel. They’ll speak to you on the phone or in a video consultation. If you prefer to see someone face to face we can arrange this with you.

If you can’t get online easily you can also phone for an appointment; call the team in the borough where the GP you are registered with is located. If you are not sure which service your GP is associated with check on this link or call the number closest to you and they’ll make sure you reach the right team.

The Talking Therapies services across North West London are run by Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (Brent, Kensington and Chelsea, Harrow, Westminster and Hillingdon) and West London NHS Trust (Ealing, Hounslow and Hammersmith and Fulham).

The service is not just for difficulties caused by the pandemic, they can also help with pre-existing difficulties such as:

  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much
  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Changes to your appetite
  • Feeling tired or having little energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling nervous anxious or on edge
  • Worrying too much about different things
  • Trouble relaxing
  • Becoming easily annoyed or irritable
  • Being very afraid of a specific thing (e.g. injections/ needles, certain animals, lifts)

To speak to the service directly Monday to Friday between 9am to 5pm call

  • Westminster Telephone: 030 3333 0000
  • Ealing Telephone: 020 3313 5660
  • Hammersmith & Fulham Telephone: 0300 123 1156
  • Hounslow Telephone: 0300 123 0739
  • Brent Telephone: 020 8206 3924
  • Harrow Telephone: 020 8515 5015
  • Hillingdon Telephone: 01895 206 800
  • Kensington & Chelsea Telephone: 020 3317 4200

Support in an emergency

Talking Therapies Services are not able to provide immediate support in an emergency. If you require immediate help:

If you live in Brent, K&C, Harrow, Westminster or Hillingdon contact CNWL’s Single Point of Access line (24 hours a day) on 0800 0234 650

If you live in Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow or Ealing contact West London’s Single Point of Access line (24 hours a day) on 0800 328 4444

Find out more in the video below:


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Talking Therapies
Posted on: 8th March 2021

Emotional support in your language

troubled man seeks emotional support in his own language

Self-Care is an approach to health and wellbeing which helps you to keep yourself well. The Community Living Well self-care programme helps people to take more control of their mental health and physical wellbeing, and to build social contact access to community, leisure, education, arts and volunteering opportunities. There is a range of different Self-Care services that can be accessed through Community Living Well.

One-to-one emotional support in your language

One of the self-care services run by the BME Health Forum is one-to-one emotional wellbeing and support in languages such as Arabic, Farsi, French, Spanish and Somali. They provide emotional support and help with practical problems, including help to access other services.

Alex used this service in his time of need. This is his story…

Spiralling out of control

After his divorce, Alex (around 50 years of age) felt isolated, low in mood, and started ignoring letters sent to his address. His health and wellbeing were spiralling out of control and his only relative, his sister, had not made any contact for more than seven years.

Finding the courage

He found out about the Community Living Well programme through someone who attends his local Mosque and was encouraged with the level of support they received. Alex managed to get the courage to attend.

He attended sessions to get support with his on-going challenges such as arrears and housing situation. Due to his ill mental health, he had failed to realise that his rent arrears were now getting out of hand and he was at risk of being evicted – he did not know where to go or what to do.

Comfort and support

Our staff provided comfort and support to Alex when he attended his first session, as he was restless while the matter was still unresolved. Our adviser contacted Alex’s local housing office on his behalf, arranged extra time and set up a repayment agreement, making it easier for Alex to manage his debt.

At Alex’s meetings, he and the adviser set realistic goals for him to work towards, including sorting any mail he received so he felt more organised.

Making progress

Alex made good progress at his fortnightly meetings. He reached his goals and kept up with his repayment agreement. He was more engaged and started to set more goals that he could work towards.

Alex described how the service was instrumental in helping him make progress:

“I couldn’t praise them enough. With my problem, I do not meet people regularly as sometimes they are not so understanding or interested in what I say. I had to hide my difficulties and thought my problem would disappear, but it got worse. So, I turn up at this place, tell these people I need help at first meeting and felt a sense of relief as there is a young man (project leader) who is just so calm and caring, saying ‘anything you need, don’t worry.’”


To refer yourself to the Self-Care programme, please fill out this online form or call us on 020 3317 4200.

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 edition of Community Living Well magazine. To subscribe to receive the magazine, complete this form

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Self-Care
Posted on: 24th February 2021

How Peer Support groups can help you

woman attends online peer support group on her laptop computer

What is Peer Support?

Peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other. Community Living Well Peer Support is available to people over 16 who experience mental health problems whilst under the care of their GP, and their carers.

It can support you if you want to:

  • feel less isolated
  • increase your confidence
  • get or give support and talk to others who understand your mental health problems through a shared experience
  • be more knowledgeable about your mental health

The current situation…

Although the Peer Support team cannot provide our usual face-to-face meetings and groups at the moment, our wellbeing services have continued to support people online. Feedback from people using these new services has been extremely positive.

We want to reassure you that if you are struggling, we can help. Whether it is online for now, or face-to-face when things return to normal, our sessions still provide a place to meet new people and share your feelings without judgement.

Don’t take our word for it – here are some of the things that people have said about their experience with Peer Support…

“My therapist referred me to Peer Support. It has helped me a lot to make progress in areas of my life. I’ve been given helpful information from the Peer Support staff and, step by step, I’m doing more things. I have recently contacted a volunteering service that they gave me information about.”

“I am new to Peer Support. Very, very good experience – made me smile and it was nice to talk to others with similar issues – it made me feel more understood, like I’m not the only one. Good mix of people.”

“It’s the best service I’ve ever been to – it’s amazing. Sometimes people can spend days without talking. Amazing staff, very kind. And I have spoken to some really nice people there.”

“I can’t thank you enough! I didn’t realise how isolated I was before I joined Peer Support. I’ve been making terrific friends, having lots of laughs and coffee breaks. I am more relaxed and I’ve been having a ball of a time! Everything is organised to perfection, and I always leave [a group] on a high! The staff are incredibly dedicated and send such lovely texts – it’s great to feel part of a community.”

“I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy the Zoom meetings. They really are a lifesaver as they give me a reason to get up. The Mental Health Support Group helps me learn new ways of trying to cope with these very scary times, and I also very much enjoy the Quiz and Art Groups – they help cheer me up and take my mind off my problems. Thanks for all your great work and please keep the Zoom meetings up and running to help so many of us through these very difficult times.”

How to register

To refer yourself to the Peer Support service, please fill out this online form or call us on 020 3317 4200.

See our upcoming events and meetings.

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 edition of Community Living Well magazine. To subscribe to receive the magazine, complete this form

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Peer Support
Posted on: 17th February 2021

Rethink your fitness goals

woman running through a green park to achieve her fitness goals

You’re not alone in thinking that this lockdown is tougher than the last. Due to the winter weather, you may find you’re spending more time in your pyjamas, curled up in front of the TV with your favourite comfort food. Finding the motivation to exercise is harder than ever, so it might be time to rethink your fitness goals.

A study by University College London has found that 40% of people are doing less exercise this time around, compared to the last lockdown in spring 2020. (Source: University College London 2021)

Last year, people were finding new ways to stay active, taking advantage of the warm weather to be outside for long walks, runs or cycle rides. But now the novelty has worn off.

Make small changes

There are some small changes you can make to try to incorporate some activity back into your routine.

Try things that take minimal effort – going for a walk is easy as you don’t have to change your clothes or find additional equipment.

Change your fitness goals – working out to lose weight or get fit are long-term goals, which feel too far away at the moment. However, if your goal is to feel better, you will feel this straight after each exercise.

Don’t compare yourself to others – many people share their workout achievements on social media, which can make you feel bad about yourself. Everyone is different, so just focus on you!

Find what works for you – not all of us are runners and weightlifters! Put some music on and dance around your kitchen, find a HIIT workout on YouTube (there are loads!), or do some simple stretches.

Anything that allows you to move your body for a little while will make you feel better, and not just physically – you’ll also feel a great sense of achievement, so you can pat yourself on the back and say, ‘I did it!’

Be kind to yourself

We’ve said it before, but don’t be hard on yourself! We have never experienced a situation like this before, so none of us know how to deal with it properly.

Try to do one thing each day to make yourself feel better – phone or text a friend or family member for a chat, watch your favourite ‘feel good’ movie, treat yourself to nice food, or do a bit of exercise.

Extra support

However, if you are struggling and feel like you need extra support, you can refer yourself to Community Living Well. Take a look at our services and find something that works for you, then complete this online form, or speak to your GP and they can refer you.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 3rd February 2021

Housing regulations: do the changes affect me?

A couple seem stressed as they read the latest housing regulations

Housing regulations: What’s changed and how does it affect me?

Dealing with changing housing regulations can be extremely stressful. Our Navigators have provided some information and advice to support you during this difficult time.

During the first lockdown in Spring/Summer 2020, the Government put measures in place to protect tenants from eviction. These were lifted on 20 September 2020, meaning the courts could hear applications for repossession orders.

The same protection has been put in place for the latest national lockdown, meaning renters will continue to be protected from eviction.

The extension to the legislation ensures that bailiffs do not serve eviction notices, except in the most serious circumstances. The only exceptions to this are illegal occupation, false statement, anti-social behaviour, perpetrators of domestic abuse in the social sector, where a property is unoccupied following death of a tenant and serious rent arrears greater than 6 months’ rent.

This legislation will be in place until the end of 21 February 2021 and will be kept under review.

Read the latest guidance for landlords and tenants at

If you Receive Notice

Receiving a notice to quit can be very scary but there are things you can do and help is available. It is important not to ignore the notice but to seek help as soon as you receive it. Your local council has a duty to prevent homelessness so you can approach them for support. They will check the validity of the notice document and can offer to negotiate with your landlord, perhaps to agree a payment plan if there are rent arrears, so you can stay in the property, or help you find somewhere else to live.

If your social housing landlord is serving notice due to rent arrears or ASB you can negotiate a repayment plan with them to reduce the arrears or enter into an ASB agreement. This will allow you to stay in the property as long as you abide by the agreement.

If you are experiencing some of the issues mentioned…

The Navigation team are currently working remotely and are not taking face-to-face appointments but they may be able to support you remotely via telephone and online services.

To refer to our Navigator service, please complete this online referral form or call 020 3317 4200.

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 edition of Community Living Well magazine. To subscribe to receive the magazine, complete this form

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well, Navigator
Posted on: 22nd January 2021

Be kind to yourself during winter lockdown

be kind to yourself

As we find ourselves in another complete lockdown and are told to ‘stay at home’ to help stop the spread of coronavirus, many of us may find our mental health is deteriorating. It is important to be kind to yourself, so we have rounded up some information, tips and advice on how to cope with certain situations during this time.

Take care of your mental health

You may be getting bored of hearing the same messages like ‘go for a walk’ or ‘learn a new skill’, but activities like this really can help if you’re feeling a certain way.

Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature

It is scientifically proven that fresh air and natural light can help improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed. If you can, go outside for a walk and take in the sights, smells and fresh air.

If you can’t or don’t want to go outside, try opening your windows for a while to let the air in. Listen to natural sounds, like bird song or rainfall – there are apps you can download or videos to watch on YouTube. Spend time in your garden if you have one, or take a break and sit on your front doorstep.

Find ways to fill your time

It’s easy to get bored when you’re stuck indoors so try to find ways to spend your time. You could do some of the things around the house you’ve been meaning to do for ages but never had the time, like having a clear-out or a spring clean.

Relax, read a book or watch TV. It’s ok to relax as well, so don’t be hard on yourself if you decide to do nothing!

Try to keep active

If you can, try to build physical activity into your daily routine. It could be something as simple as walking up and down the stairs or dancing to music. When we feel good physically, we tend to feel more positive and better about life. When we exercise, chemicals such as serotonin and endorphins are released which help to naturally stabilise and lift our mood and improve sleep.

Get a good night’s sleep

If you are struggling to get to sleep because of anxiety or worry about the current situation, try to maintain a regular sleeping pattern and keep up good sleep hygiene practices such as avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment.

Be kind to yourself

It is important to remember that we have made it this far. Since COVID-19 became part of our lives, we have all had to learn and adapt to new ways of living.

Although it might not feel like it, you have achieved more in this past year than you think:

  • you’ve adapted
  • you’ve shown strength and determination
  • you’ve been resilient and patient

They are achievements that you can be proud of.

Other useful information

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – The advice above can also help if you’re suffering with SAD. Fewer daylight hours plus cold and wet weather means that we can’t spend as much time outside as we did in the first national lockdown. You may feel low in mood and lack motivation.

Read more about SAD, its effects and how to treat it.

Parenting during the pandemic – Having the kids at home can cause more worry for parents if you’re having to juggle working with home-schooling and childcare.

Read our article about parenting during the pandemic, with tips and advice.


Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 12th January 2021

Coping with Christmas

coping with Christmas: lonely woman wearing a face mask

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, this year’s festive season is looking quite different to usual. The unexpected changes to lockdown restrictions made on Saturday 19 December may have caused you more worry and stress during an already uncertain time.

Coping with Christmas

If you cannot celebrate this festive season how you usually would, or if you’re unable to see friends or family, Mind have put together some tips on coping with Christmas:

Focus on what you enjoy

– make where you live feel like a nice environment by putting up decorations or photos, or simply tidying up

– plan to enjoy your favourite food or drink on Christmas day

– spend the day doing things you enjoy

Connect with others

– arrange to talk to people over the phone or via video call. You could organise an activity like a quiz

– go online and connect with other people who might be spending Christmas alone. You could try Mind’s online community, Side by Side

– engage with your local community. Some local events might not be happening, but you may be able to find virtual events to join

Choose to not celebrate, if that feels easier

– tell others about your plans so they know whether or not to mention Christmas

– exchange any gifts in advance

– stay off social media and try to avoid festive adverts on TV or online

– eat the same foods and do the same activities as you would any other day

For more information and tips, visit

Useful Resources

If you’re worried or anxious about the pandemic, here are some of our past news articles that may help you:

Looking after your mental health during COVID-19

Living well during COVID-19 with a long-term health condition

Coping with loneliness during lockdown

Parenting during the pandemic

The Autumn/Winter edition of Community Living Well magazine also contains articles that you may find useful, including information on housing regulations and redundancy.

If you need additional support, you can refer to the Community Living Well service here.

Author: Stewart Gillespie
Category: Community Living Well
Posted on: 21st December 2020

SMART St Mary Abbots Rehabilitation and Training