Why men must talk
“Silence is suicidal because men don't talk,” say two men who speak from their own experience.
Sheffielder Frazer Longford and Chesterfield local Jason Cotton run Men-Talk, a men's mental health initiative that was set up after being inspired by their own mental health struggles.
“We are just two normal blokes. We aren't trained counsellors, therapists or psychologists - we've just lived - died - survived, providing a platform for men to speak,” they said.
75 per cent of all suicides are men and Jason has lost friends and colleagues through male suicide, which inspired him to want to help more families and save more men’s lives.
On April 7 this year, Jason and Frazer launched Men-Talk, with a motto of ‘Raising awareness, removing stigma - empowering people’s lives’.
It is a place specifically for men, where they can talk confidentially about self harm and suicide prevention, as well as positive mental health.
Jason and Frazer believe that early intervention and talking bonds men together, creates team spirit, trust and understanding, as well as increases awareness, compassion, hope and empowerment.
Men-Talk currently holds free monthly meetings at the Proact stadium in Chesterfield, where men hear from guest speakers whom share their stories about male suicide - be it from an individual’s own experience or from their families’ perpectives.
Meetings have been described as being ‘fiercely open, brutally honest and a hundred per cent confidential’ but the number one rule for the support group is that whatever is said in the room stays in the room.
Men-Talk has helped hundreds of men up until now and their Facebook group is doing particularly well, with over 700 individuals having made contact via the messenger service, either for themselves or for someone else.
Jason said: “Early intervention is key, which is why we encourage people to send a message so we can get talking without having to wait, book an appointment or see a GP.”
Men-Talk is currently self funded and operates in Jason and Frazer’s spare time.
They have also launched a 'Share A Smile' project, which asks for donations to be made to pay for a service.
Whether it is for a hair-cut, shave, hypnotherapy or a fitness class, donations mean that men who attend the meetings can experience these services at no cost.
They believe that this form of social inclusion can improve the lives of those ‘suffering in silence’.
Although Jason and Frazer have used various forms of local media to spread the word and have partnered with organisations like the local football club and the NHS, they believe they can still do more.
“We want to raise the importance of men's mental health nationally,” they explained.
For more information about Men-Talk, see: https://www.facebook.com/Men-Talk-2158679080895156/