Published Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Men’s Health Week, which runs from 14 – 21 June, is encouraging conversations around male mental health under this year’s theme: ‘better mental health in a COVID world’.
Talking about mental health and raising awareness of support is important to get people to seek help. Coventry and Warwickshire data shows that over 70% of suicide cases were not in contact with services and that men are at higher risk.
To shine a light on male mental health, health and care partners in Coventry and Warwickshire have funded the development of real-life stories that relate to men’s experiences to provide messages of hope and support.
Local male survivors of suicide were interviewed, sharing their experiences of mental health support, as well as the advice they took and hobbies they have started to help them engage with others and manage their mental health and wellbeing. From this, five videos were created that give positive messages about being kind to yourself, overcoming obstacles and finding the right support.
Individual mental health struggles vary, and the videos reflect this range, from coping with schizophrenia, to finding joy in gardening to addressing alcoholism. This is just a snapshot of the complexity of mental health issues but whatever the circumstance support is available through www.dearlife.org.uk.
Alex Cotton MBE, Mental Health Nurse and Founder of ‘It Takes Balls to Talk’, said: “Men’s mental health week is an opportunity to ‘check in’ with our mates, family, friends and colleagues. It’s a conversation starter, sending a message to the ones we may not have heard from or seen because of the pandemic. Sending a quick ‘how are you? You alright?’ demonstrates you care.
‘When people feel low it is tricky to reach out for support. Let’s seize the day and send a message today.”
Coventry City Councillor Kamran Caan, portfolio holder for Public Health and Sport said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted men’s mental health and the different ways they can seek help for whatever it is they are struggling with.
“It has also helped many recognise the importance of taking care of our wellbeing through creative outlets and being around nature. Recent work with our partners to tell the stories of five brave men across our communities that have accepted support, advice and taken up hobbies to manage their mental health are testament to that.
“They are shining examples to those who find themselves in similar turmoil that there are small things we can all do to feel a bit brighter and more positive about our lives.
“Experiencing mental ill health needs to be normalised and we want Coventry and Warwickshire to be a place where no one feels alone or isolated and people are able to find the journey to recovery that suits them after this difficult time.”
Councillor Margaret Bell, Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care & Health, said: “Seeking support for mental health concerns has been a big challenge for men in Warwickshire and Coventry even before the pandemic. Therefore, we are honoured to have produced these videos on behalf of local men who have found help, in the hopes that these real-life stories will lead to more men seeking support when they need it.
“Sharing stories about our wellbeing can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. Whatever you may be struggling with, there is help for you. Visit dearlife.org.uk for local and national support available.”
To watch the videos, go to Warwickshire County Council’s YouTube channel.
Organisations featured in the videos are Coventry Men’s Shed and Coventry and Warwickshire Mind (CWMind). Men’s Shed is open to any male over 30, to help men with their wellbeing, health and confidence through activities and peer to peer support and learning.
CWMind is a local mental health charity affiliated to Mind. They have been developing and delivering quality services with, and for, people with mental health problems for over 50 years.