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Project encourages men to ask for help with mental health issues

Roger Kingerlee. Photo: NSFT

Roger Kingerlee. Photo: NSFT

NSFT

A targeted project designed to encourage more men to ask for help with mental health issues has been hailed a success after playing a key role in raising awareness of the importance of safeguarding emotional wellbeing.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) men’s wellbeing project launched in 2016 to encourage more men to talk about their problems and seek support. It came as a result of statistics which showed men are most at risk of taking their own lives.

Since then, a range of activities have taken place to challenge stereotypes, involve men in the way services are delivered and increase knowledge of the support which is available when people need extra help. Specific initiatives include:

• Holding major conferences on engaging men in mental healthcare in Norfolk and Suffolk for around 520 people who attended.

• Initiating three free All to Play For football sessions in Norwich and Great Yarmouth for around 60 men with mental health issues.

• Working in partnership with others to create MensNet (www.menscraft.org.uk/mensnet), which gives local men links to key organisations which can help at times of distress.

• Training around 250 mental health staff, as well as staff in student support services at UEA and who work in Job Centres in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft to increase knowledge of male psychologies and engagement in mental healthcare.

Over the coming months, NSFT will focus on expanding the project into Suffolk by replicating some of the work which has taken place so successfully in Norfolk.

The news comes on World Suicide Prevention Day, which this year carries the theme working together to prevent suicide.

Dr Roger Kingerlee, consultant clinical psychologist with NSFT, said: “We have been both startled and hugely encouraged by the level of interest this initiative has generated so far. There has been a real appetite for cultural change which is having a positive impact on people’s attitudes towards asking for help.

“Initiatives like ours are taking place all over the country at the moment, while celebrities such as Prince Harry and Rio Ferdinand have also helped to break down stigma and raise awareness of men’s mental health. As a result of this collective effort, the latest ONS figures suggest that men’s suicide rates have dropped to their lowest level since records began in 1981, which is great news and shows what can be achieved if people all push in the same direction.

“We feel that we have been doing the right thing at the right time – people really are ready to hear more about this subject, which is why the project has been so successful.

“But we very much view this as the start of our journey. We now hope to build on the project’s strong foundations by expanding into Suffolk so that we can show even more men that it’s okay to ask for help.”

• Need to talk? Call Samaritans on 116 123.

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