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Work to do to remove stigma around men's mental health, charity says

This news post is 6 months old
 

Changes is based in East Lothian, and offers vital support to men with their mental health

A charity has said the fight to support men with their mental health must go on.

To mark Men’s Health Week 2021, East Lothian based charity, Changes, has said there is still a lot of work to do to remove the stigma men face in accessing support for their mental health. Men’s Health Week takes place from 14-21 June .

John Rendall, Changes men’s group worker, has shared his story of how far he has come, from grief, loss, stress, blame and guilt to supporting other men by encouraging them to open up. 

After life changing events shook up his world, John reached out for help and today he is sharing extracts from his story in the hope that it will encourage other men to do the same.

He said: “14 years ago, my life was turned upside down. I lost my wife, Elizabeth, to stomach cancer. Liz lived without a stomach for three and a half years. We have three children, and it is hard to put into words how overwhelming this was for myself and my family. Shortly before losing Liz my mother-in-law passed away. She had lived with Motor Neuron Disease for years, which was terrible to witness. After losing Liz, I lost a friend who was also my employer at the time.”

John became more and more overwhelmed; and throughout all of this he was holding down a stressful full-time job. 

“After all the life events and so much loss (a small word which carries a lot of pain). I was burnt out, my confidence was at an all-time low, I had low self-esteem, I felt weak, worthless. I was playing the “blame game”, feeling guilty for not being stronger. I was constantly criticizing myself."

John spoke about the fear and stigma he experienced before asking for help. He was not used to talking about his feelings and was afraid that by admitting he was not coping he might lose his job and his family.

Eventually John sought help from his doctor. As well as being prescribed anti-depressants he was given Changes’ telephone number. “When I phoned Changes I immediately felt a warmth of understanding, compassion and support. This is when I really started to open up about my challenges and all the loss in my life. With Changes’ help I have developed resilience.”

Through Changes, John attended counselling, Changes Men’s Group and First Steps Course. Before long he took on a volunteer role, co-facilitating courses and supporting the Men’s Group. He believes that volunteering played a major part in improving his mental health.

John is now a member of Changes’ staff team. As a peer worker he runs weekly group sessions as well as providing initial telephone support calls, offered to everyone who comes to Changes.

He said: “We all have mental health from birth to death. There is no need to be ashamed of that fact. If you need help, then you need help. Changes men's peer groups are ready and waiting to offer support.”

To access support from Changes call 0131 653 3977 or email info@changeschp.org.uk

Changes Community Health Project is a charity, access is free and is for anyone over 16 years of age.

 

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