Charity teaching suicide prevention skills to medical students awarded by BMA Giving

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Published: Tuesday 17 August 2021

A charity whose work aims to prevent suicides among young people will now be able to help students in three medical schools, two of which funded by a grant from BMA Giving.

Olly’s Future developed and ran Dr SAMS – Suicide Awareness in Medical Students - programme for medical students at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) in 2020/21 with a BMA Giving grant. And with a new grant of £20,000, it can now run the training as part of the curriculum at BSMS and University of Exeter Medical School in 2021/22. Kent and Medway Medical School will also include Dr SAMS in its curriculum, funded by Kent County Council.

Ann Feloy, chair of Olly’s Future said: "We are delighted to receive the BMA Giving grant for the second year running for Dr SAMS. This enables Olly's Future to equip hundreds more medical students with vital skills to talk about suicide to their friends and colleagues, and later on, use this knowledge and understanding in their careers to help patients. With the BMA backing, our powerful and pioneering three-part programme will build on the success of the pilot which was run at BSMS in 2020/21. It gives our small charity, set up in memory of my beloved son Oliver, the credibility and authority we need, to ensure Dr SAMS is run as part of the curriculum going forward.”

Post-training surveys of students who took part in the Dr SAMS programme showed there had been a 40% increase in their confidence in talking about suicide with at-risk peers, supporting them and sign-posting to further help. 98% felt that they could with ease and confidence approach someone who had thoughts of suicide and start a lifesaving conversation. By extending Dr SAMS to two more medical schools, Olly’s Future hopes they will be able to equip over 500 first year medical students with the same suicide prevention knowledge.

Marina Politis, deputy chair and welfare lead for the BMA medical students committee said: “Supporting the wellbeing of medical students is critical, now during the COVID-19 pandemic more than ever1. I hope that the sessions offered by Olly’s Future will allow students to be more empowered to start conversations surrounding suicide and have the tools to support their peers, as well as decreasing the stigma that unfortunately still exists surrounding suicide. This awareness is invaluable, and it is encouraging that these medical schools recognise the value of training like Dr SAMS. I hope that it will be a first step towards increased support and awareness by medical schools and institutions themselves, and a change in culture to address the root causes of medical student suicide.”

Professor Averil Mansfield CBE, chair of BMA Giving, said: “As evidence continues to show the devastating effects of the pandemic on the medical profession, supporting doctors and medical students is vitally important. The BMA provides help through its own services, like our 24/7 wellbeing helpline. But the Association is also proud to aid other organisations through BMA Giving who align with our mission of looking after doctors so they can look after you.

“The 2021 BMA Giving grants have been awarded to an excellent list of recipients, like Olly’s Future, whose work using this funding will undoubtedly make a difference to the mental wellbeing of medical students and their future patients.”

At Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the first part of Dr SAMS – a 90-minute, online suicide prevention training - was delivered to 351 medical students. Professor Juliet Wright, Director of Undergraduate Teacher and Learning, said: “I can say that the students have benefited enormously from the programme and the very real and practical support this gives them is its strength. Students leave with a confidence to take the next steps should they need too, and that is such a very valuable skill to have given them.”

Professor Ian Fussell, Associate Dean of Education at the University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health, said: “We’re very pleased that we’ll be able to offer the varied Dr SAMS training to our students, and increase awareness for mental health especially after such a challenging year. The wellbeing of our students is crucial to us, and we want them to feel confident to initiate the conversation around suicide. It’s important that they look after themselves, and this will also enable them to take even better care of their patients in the future.”

The other charities who received a BMA Giving grant for 2021 are the BMA Charities Trust Fund, The Cameron Fund, Child Bereavement UK, the David Nott Foundation, Medical Aid Films, the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund, and Second Sight.

Notes to editors

 

  1. BMA surveys of members show that the mental health of the medical profession has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic - with 41% of respondents in February saying they suffer from a mental health condition and that this has worsened during the pandemic.

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives. 

BMA Giving is a committee of BMA members who meet annually to determine BMA grants to healthcare charities. The committee is chaired by Professor Averil Mansfield CBE.

The committee awards grants to charities whose research projects fall within the objects of the BMA: 

  • promoting the medical and allied sciences
  • maintaining the honour and interests of the medical profession
  • promoting the achievement of high quality healthcare.

The committee also welcomes applications from charities where doctors play a key role in the charity’s work.

Olly’s Future was formed by the family of friends of Oliver Hare, who sadly lost his life to suicide in 2017 at the age of 22. The charity was set up in his memory to develop and deliver suicide prevention initiatives, particularly for young people. By delivering training to medical students, they want to reduce the risk of suicide among them and their future patients. For media enquiries please contact Ann Feloy on [email protected] or 07809697495

The University of Exeter Medical School is part of the University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health. Their mission is to improve the health of the South West and beyond, through the development of high quality graduates and world-leading research that has international impact.

As part of a Russell Group university, they combine this world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction. Exeter has over 19,000 students and is ranked 12th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.

The University of Exeter Medical School’s Medicine course is in the top 10 in the Complete University Guide 2020.

The College’s Medical Imaging programme is ranked in the top 5 in the Guardian Guide 2020 and the Complete University Guide 2020.

The University of Exeter entered the world top 20 for Biomedical and Health Sciences in the CWTS Leiden Ranking 2019, based on the percentage of publications ranked in the top 10 per cent most cited.