GRANTS of between £500 and £5,000 are on offer to groups working to prevent suicides and help people with mental health issues.

The cash is for groups working in the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group area and has come through NHS England and North Yorkshire County Council.

It's part of moves across the country to cut the numbers of people taking their own lives by ten per cent in the next two years. Suicide Action Plans are already in operation throughout North Yorkshire to improve access to and the quality of mental health services for residents.

"Statistics show that, at some point in their lives, one in four people will experience mental health issues," said County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Public Health.

"In North Yorkshire, that’s around 150,000 people, that's more than the populations of Harrogate and Scarborough combined. We can have good or poor mental health, just as we have varying physical health, and we can all experience changes in our mental wellbeing from time to time. This can be anxiety, stress or a more serious mental health condition.

"These grants will play an important part in the work that supports the aims and objectives of the North Yorkshire mental health strategy, called Hope, Control and Choice, and the mental health Crisis Care Concordat work that the county council is carrying out with its partners."

Groups can bid for the new grants up to the end of March. The schemes for funding will need to focus on the development of a range of targeted support that strengthens and builds resilience and makes a positive contribution to:

• reducing stigma and discrimination;

• developing mentally healthy communities and workplaces

• reducing loneliness and social and emotional isolation

• reducing suicides.

Groups who want to apply should go through

The funding will run alongside services already set up by North Yorkshire County Council, in partnership with the NHS, which pays for a helpline for people who find themselves in a crisis situation. The service is available out of office hours and at weekends. People who need advice, support or help can call the dedicated number, 0333 000 0309 to speak to a friendly, understanding advisor.