Sheffield man setting up network to publicise groups helping men with mental health issues

A Sheffield man who bravely opened up about his own struggles with anxiety and depression has lent his support to The Star’s new campaign on men’s mental health.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 12:14 pm

Father-of-three Jonathan Middleton, aged 38, from Aston, became a surprise spokesperson for the condition after calling a BBC Radio Sheffield phone in on the subject of ‘battles’.

So impressed were they with Jonathan’s honestly about his difficulties that they invited him into the studio the very next day, where he spoke to dozens of callers with similar experiences.

Since then, the proud Wednesdayite has poured his efforts into breaking down the barriers that stop many men talking about their feelings in the hope that his story can inspire others to get help.

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Jonathan Middleton.
Jonathan Middleton.

He said: “I wholeheartedly support The Star’s men’s mental health campaign. The more people say this is fine and normal the better.

“Mental health conditions are as normal as anything else like diabetes or heart disease or arthritis.

“They are problems that you can be open about and get support for.”

Sadly, one of the main problems people experience, Jonathan says, is still the stigma associated with the condition and admitting you suffer from it.

“That initial admission is hard,” he says.

“You think it is going to affect your job or your relationship. Are my kids going to view me differently?

“It is about getting people to overcome those feelings of shame and breaking down those barriers.”

Jonathan is now hoping to set up a network to publicise the growing array of talking options in the region such as the Sheffield-based Andy’s Man Club and Mankind, and MattTalking in Rotherham.

“These groups can act as the first point of therapy and there are more and more of them so that is fantastic,” he said.

“But there are so many people who don’t access that support and sadly end up taking their own lives.

“Part of the problem is that when you suffer from mental health problems your confidence can be quite low and you can become withdrawn.

“But if you can get through the door it can really help.”

Jonathan can be found on Twitter @jonrobmid.