World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September
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 which attracted excellent feedback from 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. John Palmer, 29, who struggles with depression, described the sessions as the “highlight of my week”, adding: “I really look forward to getting together with a bunch of guys, playing football and just having a laugh. The course gives me the chance to do something which makes me genuinely happy and is one of the only times I can really be myself.”
• 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. The training has been created by Gabriel Abotsie, Men’s Wellbeing Nursing Lead with NSFT, and Luke Woodley, a former army guardsman who set up Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing after suffering with PTSD and now works closely with NSFT to promote good mental health.
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, (pictured) 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 its ok to ask for help.”
To find out more about the Trust's Men's Wellbeing Project, click here.
Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney and Wellbeing Suffolk provide a range of support for people with common mental health and emotional issues, such as low mood, depression or stress. The service aims to work with people to help them make changes to improve their wellbeing and quality of life before they reach crisis point.
For more information, call 0300 123 1503 or visit www.wellbeingnands.co.uk
If you need someone to talk to, you can call The Samaritans on 116 123. For more information, visit the Samaritans' website here.
For further advice and to find out about the support that NSFT can offer, visit the Help in a crisis page here.
Suicide facts and figures
Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures show that a total of 5,821 suicides were registered last year in the UK, down from 5,965 in 2016.
Of these, 4,382 were male suicides, at a rate of 15.5 deaths per 100,000 men, the lowest since records were first collected in 1981.
To view the statistics, click here.
To find out more, visit our World Suicide Prevention Day page here.