Central Co-op holds a Women’s Voices event every March, tying into International Women’s Day. But it also holds an annual Men’s Voices event – which saw men gather last month at Burton Albion Football Club, to spread the positive message of talking and supporting each other.
According to research by the Priory Group, 77% of men have suffered with common mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress or depression, but 40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health. Of those who haven’t, 29% say they are “too embarrassed” to speak about it.
“Sometimes men find it hard to open up,” said James Knight, Central’s membership and community relations officer for the western region.
“Everyone is different, and there are aspects and issues that affect us all, but the underlying theme always comes back to mental health. This event was designed to open up the conversation and help promote men talking about issues that affect them in their daily lives.”
The day was attended by male colleagues, members, and the community, who heard speakers and attended workshops and activities designed to open up the conversation on men’s mental health.
Society president, Elaine Dean, opened the day, speaking about her long-term support for the occasion, and there was a recorded message from Debbie Robinson, CEO, who spoke about the importance of providing safe environments for men to talk about mental health.
The day’s guest speaker was Mike Sinclair, director of Birmingham-based Sporting Spirit, which aims to provide positive role models to young people in the area and pass on the benefits of sport and fitness while encouraging young adults to see a different life away from crime and gang culture.
Workshops, led by Central colleagues and members, focused on men’s health and wellbeing, food and eating, male suicide, and work-life balance, alongside addiction, bereavement and inclusion.
“There was also a chance for attendees to take part in some fitness and mindfulness activity,” added Knight, “with a choice of playing football, going for a walk, enjoying some relaxing yoga, or the chance to have a cuppa and a chat.
“Conversation flowed, men spoke and opened up, and listening to some of the feedback, they proved very popular and worthwhile.
“Knowing and talking about issues that affect us is a very important part of the day, but understanding that physical/mental activity is as important, and finding an escape to reflect or support is proven to help with positive mental health. Each of the activities gave a different way to find that release.”
Closing the day, society secretary, Andy Seddon, gave an overview of the workshop sessions.
“A common thread was how talking to each other makes a difference,” added Knight. “We should all talk more, and ask how people are doing, to really make sure.
“These events don’t just happen, and many people were involved in creating such a worthwhile event to help support men’s mental health, on topics that really need to be spoken about more. Thanks to all that supported this event.”
It is important to seek help if you or someone around you needs it. Below are some helplines that can support, and remember your GP is also a good place to seek help and support.
Emergency Immediate Support call 999 for the emergency services
Mind – 0300 123 3393 or mind.org.uk
Samaritans – 116 123 or samaritans.org