A mental health conversation starter tool
We hope these conversation tips and prompts will help you get your community talking.

SIGNSS is a conversation starter tool to support faith and community leaders to engage in mental health conversations with their members.

Led by psychologist and public health specialist Dr Pamela Nkyi and developed through engagement with community leaders across London, SIGNSS aims to normalise conversations about mental health. The ultimate goal is to encourage help-seeking behaviour and signpost people to support.

London has a diverse population with a high proportion of first- and second-generation immigrants and marginalised communities which has also given rise to variable experiences of authority and trust in public services. Being able to have conversations about mental health with trusted individuals within faith and community organisations will provide that bridge for those who may need additional support.

Dr Pamela Nkyi describes SIGNSS:

SIGNSS is designed to be a conversation starter that provides prompts to help people have conversations with their faith and non-faith communities about mental health and wellbeing, which could take many forms depending on the user.

“SIGNSS itself does not tackle a particular topic and is not tailored towards a specific faith or non-faith setting; with the wide range of mental health needs and diverse faith and non-faith experiences across London, we recognise that one tool will not be able to capture everything.

“Through the tool, people are provided with prompts to have conversations; each conversation will differ and each conversation will capture different topics.”

Taking advantage of every opportunity to talk about mental health

It has never been more important for each of us to think and talk more about mental health and wellbeing, and to seek help when it is needed.

SIGNSS takes the user through a set of clear stages to start, maintain and safely close a conversation about mental health. It is designed to complement what faith and community leaders are already doing to support their members through difficult times.

  1. Situation Using a situation to find common ground.
  2. Initiate Initiating a caring conversation, asking direct questions.
  3. Guide Being a good listener, without judgement.
  4. Nudge Prompting with positive encouragement and practical suggestions.
  5. Support and Signpost Sharing help and resources

This simple process is designed to take advantage of every opportunity to talk about mental health.

Feedback on SIGNSS
We are also keen to hear how you are using SIGNSS, is it working for you and how can we improve it for the future.

Please get in touch with our team to help us to make SIGNSS work for as many communities across London.

We have plans to develop more resources to support SIGNSS in the coming months including videos, panel discussions and further printed resources – keep up to date via our newsletter.

Other resources to help you help others
Knowing the most supportive things to say and do for people who are very distressed is really important.

Supporting those distressed by the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus crisis is continuing to impact people’s lives and wellbeing differently. Although everyone is affected in some way by the pandemic, there are a wide range of reactions and feelings each person can have. Many people may feel overwhelmed, confused or very uncertain about what is happening. They can feel very fearful or anxious, or numb and detached.

Therefore, knowing the most supportive things to say and do for people who are very distressed is really important. You can explore our guidance on how best to support those adversely affected or distressed by the coronavirus outbreak. It will also give you information on how to approach conversations safely for yourself and others, and not to cause harm by your actions.

Online psychological first aid training

Public Health England (PHE) has developed an online Psychological First Aid (PFA) training module, aimed at all frontline and essential workers and volunteers. The course teaches the key principles of giving psychological first aid in emergencies and aims to increase awareness and confidence to provide this support to people affected by COVID-19.

Support after sudden bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic

We have put this resource together to support you if you are grieving the sudden death of someone close to you, or if you are supporting someone going through sudden bereavement.

Supporting your own wellbeing and safety
Supporting those in distress or who have an urgent need can take its toll on your own wellbeing.

You can read Volunteering Matters’ guide on how to volunteer safely in response to COVID-19. It provides a range of guidance and instructional videos for how you can help others in your community safely.

If you need support, there are a range of tools and resources to help support your mental health and wellbeing. You can also explore free NHS-approved apps and resources from Good Thinking to help you deal with stress, anxiety, low mood and poor sleep.