These online resources provide guidance for healthcare professionals to improve conversations about suicidal ideation, self-harm and other common mental health problems. We use real examples from video-recorded psychosocial assessments with mental health nurses, social workers, and other healthcare professionals. 



                The insights we share come from a field of research

                known as Conversation Analysis, or CA. Researchers

                in this field record and micro-analyse verbal and

                non-verbal communication to study the consequences

                of different ways of communicating.  Importantly,

                        insights also come from our conversations with

                        groups of people with lived experience and

                        interviews with healthcare professionals and

                        people with mental health problems.




We share research on verbal and non-verbal communication alongside our observations of real clinical conversations about self-harm and suicide. We feature studies such as:

Rossano, 2012

In everyday conversation, eye contact has a significant impact on whether or not a person expands on what they are saying. Rossano finds that when listeners have withdrawn their gaze by the end of a sentence, the speaker continues only 26% of the time. In contrast, when listeners maintain their gaze on the speaker, the speaker continues 95% of the time. We ask how this research translates to our video-recorded conversations about self-harm and suicide, and when looking at the patient (rather than paper notes) might make the most impact.

Rossano, 2012. Gaze Behavior in face-to-face interaction. PhD Dissertation, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Bergen & McCabe, 2021

Patients presenting for self-harm and suicidal ideation often push back against practitioners’ treatment recommendations. However, these patients shift from a negative stance to a positive stance towards treatment 84% of the time when practitioners (1) ask a question that facilitates a more complete description of their perspective, (2) accept the patient’s perspective, and (3) bring up their reasons perspective in any subsequent treatment recommendation. We show what this looks like in practice and how it can be implementented

Bergen & McCabe, 2021. Negative stance towards treatment in psychosocial assessments: The role of personalised recommendations in promoting acceptance. Social Science and Medicine.