It's taken a while, much longer than we expected for sure, but they're finally here! Our very own series of men-only peer support groups start this week! Arrgghh!!! Just breathe! Don't panic Mr. Mainwaring!
The next chapter in the Men Tell Health journey starts this Thursday (or last Thursday... or some Thursday in the dim, distant past.... or, if you finally got that time machine working, a future Thursday). OK, just to clarify, on Thursday 16th March 2017 at 6pm our very first peer support group takes place at the Labyrinth Holistic Cafe in Stockton-on-Tees. I think it's fair to say I am excited and terrified in equal measure!
In case you didn't know, we're based in the north-east of England, up here in lovely Teesside. We have many amazing sites in the area, but we also share some aspects that we'd rather not have. It's always been very heavy industrial area, but that has taken a bit of a battering in recent years. When it comes to mental health, in 2014, the suicide rates in the north-east was the highest in the country, and not just a little bit higher, significantly higher.
When it comes to us blokes, the suicide rates are also the highest in the country, again, not just a little higher, but significantly than the next in the list. I'd love to be able to tell you that that the silver lining was that it was, at least, coming down from previous years. It isn't. (Source: ONS)
Now we don't profess that our groups are going to reduce these to zero (although it would obviously be nice), but we would be remiss if, given what we do and where we are, we didn't try and do 'something', and that something is offering men a place to come and get the pressures of modern life off their collective chest.
We've actually gone from exactly zero groups to 3 different groups in one month. Talk about hectic!
First up, chronologically at least (assuming you haven't got a time machine) are our SpeakEasy Groups. These are our own men-only peer support groups aimed squarely at blokes who want to get stuff off their chest. We've worked hard to create an environment that's conducive to talking about life's problems, so we hope they're going help the men of the region, but they are a strange kind of quirk for us.
I'm as nervous (or should that be terrified) of no-one turning up and I am that 100 people will be knocking on the door. As strange as it might sound, the best outcome would be that no-one comes at all. That would tell me that that they're not needed (or possibly that our promotion was a little lacking), but I'd like to think of the former being true. If you want more details, you can get them all right here! They're taking place monthly in Stockton-on-Tees, Middlesbrough and Redcar (once we find a suitable coastal venue).
Our second offering is happening with in partnership with our friends at Raindrops to Rainbows. These monthly groups are designed to help the Dads of the world (although anything outside of Teesside might be a bit of a commute). At the moment we're only doing them in Middlesbrough, but we hope to expand on that in the future.
As a father myself, I know how much pleasure it can bring, but I also know that it's a bloody tough thing to cope with. When my son was born, it was right at the beginning of my illness that ultimately lead to my own mental health issues. Don't get me wrong, I love being a father, but I know it can be as tough as it can be rewarding. That's where PopStart comes in.
If you're a Dad finding all the added responsibilities a little overwhelming, if you've got post-natal depression (yes, men get that too) or if your partner is going through it, then this is the group for you. Also, if you've lost a child either during pregnancy or afterwards and are struggling with this nightmare, then we're there for you too.
All the details can be found right here!
Finally, the.... errrr... final of our three groups are called ReBoot! These take place weekly in partnership with our friends from the MFC Foundation. The ReBoot sessions are football-based but don't think you need to be gifted with your feet to join in.
ReBoot are less about the football, and more about coming together with other guys and trying to 'reboot' yourself. Whether you want to come to help you lose weight or just generally get a little exercise. Whether you like playing the game, but aren't blessed with the skills of a professional, it doesn't matter. The group can help you with any of these things. Obviously if you turn up and you're the next Christiano Ronaldo, then we will have to take 20% of your earnings for ever, but let's worry about that later!
The sessions happen every Tuesday and you can find all the details here!