A dedicated space for men to talk and share their struggles will launch in Cliftonville next week.
Manspace is being set up by Ramsgate resident David Wright with the help of several friends in a bid to help men who are facing mental health issues and suicidal thoughts.
Dad-of-two David has experienced his own difficulties with mental health and alcohol and has also lost friends and family to suicide.
The 41-year-old went through rehab 17 years ago and says addiction recovery sessions encouraged him to open up and talk about the issues in his life.
He said: “That’s what changed everything for me, being about to talk about my problems and processing that properly.
“Having that background in mental health means I know how important it is for men to have a dedicated space. A lot of men won’t open up even in the best of times so we need that accessible space where men can come and feel comfortable and able to talk.
“Rates of male suicide are significantly high and my life has been touched by that. I think men find it really difficult to talk for many reasons. A lot of it is cultural, that idea that men don’t cry and should man up means they carry all those burdens and creates a society where they don’t open up and just bottle it up and that’s where men take their lives or unprocessed emotion goes out by getting violent, alcoholism, drug addiction.
“Men need a place to talk and process those emotions, I am better for it and feel hopeful and have got a lot of peace in my life. I hope that we can give that safe space and maybe be role models for guys who haven’t started to open up yet.”
The group will be informal and offer peer support.
It is being created by David and friend Paul White who will draw on their own experiences to offer support.
David said: “It will not be run by a huge organisation, just guys who have had experiences and want to reach out and be there for other guys.”
Research for Kent and Medway published in 2021 shows that the highest suicide rates in the area have been recorded in Canterbury, Thanet and Gravesham. Data shows there were 357 male suicides, and 122 female suicides registered in Kent and Medway between 2017-2019. This means 75% of those deaths were of men. The data also flags middle aged men as most at risk
In Thanet there were 14 deaths registered as suicide in 2021 (male and female). This was lower than 2020, with 18, and 2019 with 21 deaths by suicide registered
David said: “The group aims to support wellbeing, foster community and hopefully reduce male suicide and violence. It will be an informal space that is based on principles found in other mutual aid groups where we are non affiliated, self supporting and non professional so it’s just men supporting other men, some of us with experience of mental health problems and having come through them.
“We desperately need more groups like this so men might learn to deal with their problems differently, learn what it means to just be themselves and hopefully develop a healthier masculinity
“Everyone is welcome and no one will be excluded.”
The first session is on Monday, March 20, 7pm, at Cliftonville Community Centre in St Paul’s Road. Anyone interested in joining the group is invited to just turn up.
Manspace will be relying on donations generated at meetings to pay for the room.
Release The Pressure 24hr helpline – Text the word Kent to 85258 or phone 0800 107 0160 for free confidential support