Quing, the local charity which helps people dealing with trauma, addiction and mental health issues is fighting the growing mental health crisis which has seen the island become one of the suicide hotspots in Europe. The island had 18 suicides in 2020, a suicide rate of 21.5 per 100,000, over double of that in the UK, where this figure was 8.9 per 100,000.
Graham Clucas, who founded Quing just over three years ago and with minimal external funding, says similar community based peer mentoring organisations have been proven to succeed in the UK in both helping people who need it most, whilst also reducing the cost to the taxpayer.
Quing’s recovery capital model is built on an ethos of building individual’s;
Positive social connections – having healthy relationships
Understanding of local culture – what is the dominant culture of where you live, be it religious, conservative or liberal
Personal Capital – how do you cope with life’s challenges and inner resources you have.
Material capital – physical resources which includes having a home to live in and access to transport
Political capital – how much do you feel in charge of your environment, do you feel like your voice is heard
Graham noted how a similar model ran by the NHS to Quing in the UK with an average cost of £250,000 to £300,000 per year. The first project included 100 people who in the year before had taken up 4,500 unplanned hospital bed nights between them. After just one year, this had fallen to 450 planned bed nights and the scheme was later shown to have saved £2.5m across the emergency services through a decrease in call outs and hospital care for the individuals involved in a single year. Another similar model in Blackpool, evaluated and supported by expert Professor David Best, which included 50 repeat offenders showed a 94% reduction in their reoffending.
People who engage with recovery focused peer mentoring are also more likely to volunteer with community groups, attend fewer GP appointments and take up what Graham describes as ‘active citizenship’ by working to help themselves and others.
Quing, which is based at the former St Thomas’ School on Finch Road in Douglas, has seen 101 different people attend meetings and that almost half of them had started coming since it ended. He said Quing had, across its meetings, seen 1,400 visits over the 6 months post lockdown, which was double the number in 2019. He told Gef that he believes peer mentoring charity is growing in numbers due to failings in the island’s mental health service.
Graham said that the method of curing mental sickness with pills, is one which is outdated and ‘only delays’ people facing up to the trauma which underlines their ill health, addiction or in some cases criminality. Quing believes that its work is at a critical point to avoid a worsening situation, but is facing a funding crisis, even though as little as £10 donation from each member of the island’s population would save lives and start to reverse the mental health crisis on the Isle of Man.
Graham said: ‘Quing is about people co-creating their future. Instead of being told what to do, it’s about what you want to do and co-creating your wellbeing and that of the community you are part of.’
Some of the Quing community who have benefited from its methods have agreed to share their personal stories with Gef and we will be sharing these on our website and social media pages. In the meantime you can find more about Quing, and how to donate to them here.