Improving mental health outcomes in the East of England

ContactSam Lane, Quality Improvement Lead
Telephone01138 254982
AddressCPC1, Capital Park, Fulbourn, Cambridge, CB21 5XE

This project aims to implement learning from a Detroit based suicide prevention initiative, led by Dr Ed Coffey, Henry Ford Health System, into mental health practice in the East of England. Further information about Dr Coffey and his work in the Henry Ford Health System can be found here

The main objectives are to improve outcomes for mental health service users, reduce risks of suicide and self-harm, and to widely disseminate the learning from the exemplar projects selected to become pathfinder sites.

Pathfinder sites

The four localities selected to become pathfinder sites were:

  • Mid Essex
  • Hertfordshire
  • Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
  • Bedfordshire


A programme board has been established to oversee the delivery of the projects. Membership includes the project leads from each of the sites as well as a strong expert by experience representation which provides valuable insight and guidance to the work that is being undertaken. Leading academics, third sector organisations and mental health services from across the region are also represented.

Anticipated outcomes

Common anticipated outcomes across each of the localities include:

  • Clear patient pathways established which are accessible to public, patients and professionals.
  • Standard process adopted across mental health services for identifying and categorising levels of suicidality.
  • Tangible increase in skill of professionals in their approach to working with people who are suicidal.
  • Increased community awareness of suicide through establishment of websites / delivery of campaigns
  • Increased self-reported levels of safety amongst patients and professionals

Initial actions

A workshop was held with the project leads and Dr Ed Coffey to identify some key cross-cutting themes which should run through each of the projects as good practice.

The two key learning elements identified were:

  1. Clear safety plans should be established with all people who are struggling with their mood (regardless of expressed suicidality).
  2. The established safety plans include a process for removing access to the means of suicide.

Delivery plans

Project sites have been running since April 2014. A key element of all the projects’ work is the delivery of training to a range of audiences, some with a particular focus on GPs. Each site has their own ideas about how to approach this and are sourcing their own training packages in accordance with their plans. Dr Ed Coffey further visited the UK in September to work with the sites to further develop the work that is going on and he continues to input into the programme.

Some sites have taken a community awareness approach and have begun some very impressive public campaigns. The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough STOP Suicide campaign in particular has been gaining a very high profile across the region and you can access their website here and follow them on Twitter (@stopsuicidecam).


Consideration has being given to the overall evaluation process for the programme and some funding has been made available by the Strategic Clinical Network to purchase the services of an independent evaluation organisation to complete this. The evaluation will take place over the coming year in the hope that the initial findings can be shared at a celebration event in August 2015, along with the publication of a report.