Psychoeducation groups are a mainstay of inpatient psychiatric care. They help patients learn more about disorders, symptoms, treatment, and more. Recently, the MCES Allied Therapy Department has begun using this approach to enhance our patients’ suicide prevention skills during and after their stays.
Serious mental illness carries high suicide risk. Suicidal behavior accounts for many psychiatric hospitalizations. High suicide risk is present after discharge regardless of the reason for admission. Patients shift from a supportive and protective care setting to coping with their stressors and triggers on their own.
The MCES strategy for post-discharge suicide risk includes safety plans, a “Personal Suicide Prevention Tool Kit” and a Suicide Prevention Awareness Group. The group is voluntary and designed to normalize talking about suicidal thoughts and using available supports when thoughts occur.
An Allied Therapist facilitates the group, which focuses on risk factors, warning signs, and self-care basics, as well as related topics suggested by patients. Feedback and participation have been positive. Some patients have noted that the group lessened the sense of stigma they felt as suicide attempt survivors.
Nick Gavrilov, MS, LPC, Director of Allied Therapy at MCES, started the group after learning that MCES did something similar several years ago. He felt the need remained for patients to understand the nature of suicidal thinking, know when to draw on their support system, and where to get provider-based help.