Shining a Light on Men’s Mental Health: Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

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The 13th May 2019 marks the start of national Mental Health Awareness Week and as a menswear brand with male customers up and down the UK, we wanted to shine a light on men’s mental health in an attempt to get the conversation flowing and the stigma around this topic dropped.

As men, we often refuse to talk about our feelings. We’ve been told for years that it isn’t ‘manly’ to show emotion and that ‘manning up’ is the only option when you’re feeling low but with 75% of all suicides in the UK being men, it’s time to get gents talking about mental health and how they’re suffering.

We got chatting with some of the team at Andy’s Man Club, a national support group for men here in the UK. Founded by Luke Ambler after the death of his brother in law, 23-year-old Andy Roberts, Luke decided to create a safe environment for men to talk to try and avoid other families having to go through the trauma his did.

One of the guys that work for Andy’s Man Club told us how suicide is the single biggest cause of death amongst men under 50 in the UK, with over 4,500 men taking their own lives each year. Given these statistics, it’s no surprise that men often suffer from more mental health problems than women and their behaviour often reflects this. If you are having suicidal thoughts please do not suffer alone, there are many places to turn to for help.

Men’s Health Forum released a key statistics report on men’s mental health which included facts such as:

  • 73% of people that go missing are men
  • Men are nearly 50% more likely to be detained and treated as psychiatric inpatients
  • An average of 191,000 men a year report suffering from stress, depression or anxiety that is caused or worsened by work

However, despite the UK’s male population being some of the biggest sufferers of mental health problems, men also only make up 36% of the people in the UK that access psychological therapies, so why is it that we don’t talk about it despite the obvious facts that men are suffering as much with mental health problems as women do.

A research article by Time to Change in 2013 perfectly showcases some of the genuine reasons men feel they can’t talk about mental health and they include a fear of looking weak, the stigma of ‘real men don’t cry’ and a fear of losing employment but times are changing and there’s more encouragement than ever out there now to get men talking.

Andy’s Man Club is a free support group for men up and down the UK to visit. Hosted in local venues in areas such as Manchester, Oldham, Huddersfield, Leeds, Dundee, Peterborough, Hull, Perth and more locations around the UK.

Each club meets every Monday at 7pm (except Bank Holidays), so whichever one you attend, you always know when it is going to be on. Run by free volunteers who simply want to help, there are no expectations of you when you attend one of these groups. The leaders of the sessions take a laid back and sensitive approach to getting men talking – it’s all in your own time.

Whether you just want to sit and listen or you want to sit and tell the room your full story, the option is entirely up to you and no one is going to pressure you to talk more or less. You can visit once and never again, come every week or just come when you need it, there really is no obligation to do anything when you visit this group, they’re just there to support.

Groups like Andy’s Man Club are a fantastic way for men to get non-judgemental help and support with their mental health. What better place to turn to for help with something so difficult than your peers? Support groups remove the fear of telling people who know you and could be affected by your struggles and allow you to talk openly without fear of offending or hurting someone close to you, something a lot of men worry about when opening up about mental health.

Currently, one man in the UK takes his own life every two hours which is a shocking statistic that needs to change. By using opportunities such as Mental Health Awareness Week to open up the topic on men’s mental health and sharing ideas on how men can get the support they need, we can make a difference to the number of men feeling alone.

As Andy’s Man Club say in their slogan, “It’s Okay to Talk” and that’s the message we’re keen to spread this Mental Health Awareness Week. If you are struggling with your mental health, you do not need to struggle alone. SEEK HELP.

Get involved in the conversation on Twitter by tagging @Slaters1973 and @andysmanclubuk and use the hashtags #ItsOkayToTalk to share your mental health story or advice for other men suffering.

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