Men are tackling mental health in Norfolk

As with most situations in life, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to mental health. One area that requires multi and varied approaches is men’s mental health.

Alarming figures released in September by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the suicide rate for men in England and Wales in 2019 was the highest for two decades, with men aged between 45-49 remaining at the highest risk.

The data also revealed that male suicides accounted for about three-quarters of suicide deaths registered in 2019 – 4,303 compared with 1,388 women.

Offering the right kinds of support is vital to addressing these worrying statistics. Norfolk County Council has invested more than £1m to support mental health and suicide prevention since 2018.

Case Study

Barney (53), is a keen cyclist. He heard about the 12th Man campaign through his voluntary work at a community bike shop and joined a half-day training session designed to raise awareness of mental health and provide basic knowledge about common mental health problems.

“The training made me think about how mental health issues can manifest in different ways,” said Barney. “When a person who is usually open and friendly becomes bad-tempered and withdrawn, their behaviour could be masking other issues. They may be suffering. Often when you ask somebody how they are they will just say ‘OK’ but now I make an effort to ask twice to check they really are OK.”

Many people who take the training come through cycling groups. Cycling has proven mental and physical health benefits. It’s a popular activity among men and when riding in a group, many men feel able to open up and talk about their feelings. Since completing his training, Barney has offered to lead some of the 12th Man rides.

Original article in Eastern Daily Press, 23/10/2020

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