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Men are more likely to lack the emotional support of friends and family

For Men To Talk was set up by Luke Newman, a husband and father from Potton, Bedfordshire. He started it to help to get men talking about their anxiety, depression and grief.

A study by the Men’s Health Forum suggests that men may be more likely to lack some of the known precursors of good mental health, such as the emotional support of friends and family.

Adding that 12.5% of all men in the UK are suffering with a mental health disorder. It is not unmanly to be suffering with a mental illness.

Luke says that he suffered with grief and anxiety for a number of years since losing his mother and sister, both to cancer. He first started suffering from depression after his mother Jen Newman died aged 54 in 2005 and continued after his sister Heidi Melrose died aged 44 in 2015.

He had been through counselling and therapy and recognised that there wasn’t many opportunities for men to simply talk.

Luke set up a Facebook page on Boxing Day in 2019. This generated enough interest for the first two ‘For Men To Talk’ group meetings.

These were held at Jones’ Café in Biggleswade in February and March, where nineteen and twenty-one men attended respectively. They talked about anything from football, television, movies, to feelings. Luke said:

Luke and his sister Heidi

“It’s very informal, there are no experts on hand. But leaflets and contact numbers for professional groups were available in an Information Corner for those men who recognise that they may need further help.”

There are important differences between grief and depression

Grief and depression can be difficult to distinguish between as they share many of the same characteristics. But there are important differences between them.

Grief is a natural response to a loss. People who are grieving find their feelings of sadness and loss come and go. But they’re still able to enjoy things and look forward to the future.

In contrast, depression is an illness. People who are depressed constantly feel sad. They find it difficult to enjoy anything or be positive about the future.

Depression doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, confident or anxious. It’s crippling and life-consuming. Luke said:

“I have struggled, but I feel very fortunate that I have always been able to open up and talk to someone. I know that some men struggle with that. Let’s try and change that.”

In light of the recent restrictions due to COVID-19, For Men To Talk is moving its face-to-face meetings to the virtual world.

Starting from 25 March 2020, the Virtual Group Meeting will commence on the website/application ‘Zoom’. Please see www.bit.ly/FT2TVGM for further details.

Luke added that there needs to be more conversation around mental health so that men are encouraged to seek help instead of suffering in silence.

The group aims to meet every second Wednesday of the month.