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Be in your mate’s corner

A Warrington man who opened up over his mental health issues is encouraging others to speak out.

Rav, 31, from Chapelford, went through a tough time just over 10 years ago when he found himself in a dark place, feeling helpless and isolated.

He said: “I didn’t know how to deal with the way that I felt. ‘I’m a man, I don’t talk about my feelings, and I should just get on with it’ is a common attitude when men are encouraged to talk about how they feel. There is something about not being ‘macho’ if we talk about our feelings and some may see it as a sign of weakness. This attitude can lead to some men suffering in silence, not sharing their thoughts or feelings and struggling to come to terms with them.

“I was in a place that felt pretty dark and very isolated, I didn’t know how to deal with the way that I felt. For some time, my thinking became increasingly negative and I began to get annoyed by small things that wouldn’t usually matter. I made lots of unhealthy choices too, which didn’t help me manage things any better – but probably made them worse.

“One day it all got on top of me and I broke down in tears, all of my pent up emotions came out. I opened up and shared how I was feeling. This was a life changing moment. Immediately I began to feel better and others began to notice the difference in me. Over time I began to feel more positive about life and felt like I was able to be myself again.

“This experience opened my eyes to being more open about how I feel. I want to encourage others to make sense of their emotions, not keep everything bottled up, and hopefully manage them a little easier. Just by talking about how you feel with your mate can really help so you don’t have to suffer in silence.”

Time to Change, the mental health campaign run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, carried out research into men’s attitudes towards mental health and found that men are less knowledgeable about mental health and far less likely to report their own experiences of mental health problems.

Warrington Borough Council’s public health team and its partners are supporting Time to Change’s ‘In Your Corner’ campaign which is urging men to recognise the importance of their own mental health, how their attitudes and behaviours can influence other people’s experiences of mental health and that being in a friend’s corner can make all the difference.

Men are encouraged to step in, if a mate is acting differently and to:
1.    Text, call, reach out
2.    Listen without judging
3.    Be themselves and do everyday things 

Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, executive board member for public health and wellbeing, said: “The stress and strain of daily life can affect anyone, at any time. For some it can lead to serious mental health problems, or to people feeling overwhelmed and suicidal. It’s vital that we make sure men know how and where to get help if they feel unable to cope.

“In Warrington, we want to make sure that men get the information, advice and support they need, either to maintain their mental wellbeing, or to recover, if they are experiencing mental health problems or know someone else who needs support.”

One in four of us will experience mental health problems this year and having someone in your corner who will listen without judgement can help you make positive steps towards recovery.

As part of the campaign, a red stool will be circulating around local community venues along with mental health information. The stool and other useful resources are available for community groups and organisations to loan to raise awareness of men’s mental health. For more information email resources@warrington.gov.uk.

You can find details of helplines, online support and other services which have been designed especially for men at www.happyoksad.org.uk. The website also includes information to help you look after your mental wellbeing and feel good.

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