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NSFT psychologist takes part in sell-out event at leading festival

​A consultant clinical psychologist from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has spoken at one of the world's top literary festivals on the subject of men and suicide.

Dr Roger Kingerlee was one of the speakers along with his colleague, former Coldstream Guard Luke Woodley from Costessey, Norwich, who developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after serving under the United Nations in Bosnia in 1993.

They took part in a chaired discussion called "Men and Suicide: Making Sense and Building Resilience" at the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, an annual festival which takes place at Hay-on-Wye in Powys on the Wales-England border, described by Bill Clinton in 2001 as "the Woodstock of the mind".

The pair work together with John King, NSFT's Mindfulness Trainer and Practitioner, on the Veterans' Stabilisation Programme which aims to provide veterans with the discipline and skills to better manage life, day-to-day.

Dr Kingerlee said: "The aim of the discussion was to help the public understand why there is often a reluctance among men to seek help and to look at potential solutions and the benefits of close partnership working for the benefit of local communities.

"Currently, national statistics show men are three times more likely to take their lives than women, particularly those in the 45 to 59 age group.

"In many ways, what we are doing in Norfolk – working systematically in this area – puts us in a strong position nationally.

"The discussion was very well-received. All 60 tickets sold out some time ago and, with mental health high on the national agenda, it's likely that had more space been available, it would have been filled."

The focus of the discussion was why men might be vulnerable and how communities might rise to the challenge of male suicide.

Other speakers at the festival this year, which ends on Sunday, include historians David Olusoga and Simon Schama,  writer Margaret Attwood and Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Luke founded the Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing organisation, a community interest company based in Wymondham, which – working hand-in-hand with the local NHS – offers veterans a non-medical "front door" through which people can access the help they need to deal with their mental health and wellbeing.

The Veterans' Stabilisation Programme is a partnership between NSFT and The Walnut Tree Project (part of Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing). Group sessions are made up of six to eight people and are held for two hours, once-a-week for 16 weeks.

The two organisations are also involved in the Community Response Team, an initiative which involves special response cars, called to support those, registered with the service, experiencing a mental health crisis out-of-hours.

NSFT also has a Men's Wellbeing Project, to which Luke also actively contributes, one of the aims of which is to encourage men to talk more openly about their emotions, engage with the help that is available and therefore reduce suicide among men and boys.

Caption: This photograph, which has been supplied by Sue Wright from Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing, shows Dr Kingerlee (left) with Luke Woodley.

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