A special event supporting men’s mental health will be held at Eastbourne library next month.
‘Let’s Talk… Men’s Mental Health’ is an opportunity for men and women to join an open and honest conversation about men’s mental health and find out more about where people can get the support they need.
The evening will be hosted by Paul Roskilly from ManKind, who established the Eastbourne based support organisation with Ian Pickard in 2020, to provide a safe environment for men to meet, talk and seek the help they need.
Paul has had his own struggles with his mental health over the years.
“I was in the police force for 30 years and spent the vast majority of my career as a firearms officer. I suffered my first breakdown following a serious incident and was later diagnosed with PTSD. With support and treatment however, I returned to operational duties.
“A few years later I suffered a second mental health crisis when I was diagnosed with an incurable neurological condition for which I am still having treatment.
“It was tough but second time around I was better equipped to deal with my mental health struggles, proactively putting coping strategies in place for myself.”
Following his retirement Paul moved into teaching and saw first-hand the difficulties young people face when dealing with their own mental health. After a chance meeting with a friend, Paul decided to train as a Samaritan.
“That’s when I learnt about the power of being able to listen and support someone struggling with their mental health.
“But I wanted to do more and with two like-minded friends established an organisation that campaigns for better mental health in the workplace. I also trained as a mental first aider.”
At a wellbeing event, Paul met Ian who was becoming more concerned about men’s mental health through his work as a Health and Safety consultant in the building industry. On average, two men from the building community commit suicide each day.
“Wanting to do more to support men who were suffering alone with their mental health, Ian and I set up ManKind to provide a safe space for men to talk about their feelings and to try and remove the stigma attached to poor mental health, especially in men.
“We held two face to face meetings, and then the Covid lockdown struck. But we knew we couldn’t let that stop us, so we went online and held weekly Zoom meetings.
“Over the last two and half years, more than 130 men have joined us. Some want to talk, for others just making it to the meeting is a big step.”
It’s not weak to speak
Talking isn’t always easy, especially for men, who often have greater difficulty talking about their own struggles than women do.
“We all know the importance of talking but unfortunately men tend to bottle things up. They don’t share with their friends, and if they do they often meet resistance from other men who don’t want, or don’t know how, to listen.”
“We offer unconditional support and tread gently around people’s vulnerabilities. We aim to make them feel safe, and then they feel safe to speak.
“If you are struggling with your own mental health, or you are worried about a man in your life, please get in touch. It’s not weak to speak.”
Let’s Talk… Men’s Mental Health’ eventThe ‘Let’s Talk…’ event is being supported by ManKind, the Samaritans and The Old Bank Wellbeing Trust.
Speakers who will be sharing their personal stories include Peter Bray who will speak about his own ManKind journey, and James who will talk about mental health struggles from a younger person’s perspective.
Partners, family and friends are also impacted greatly by men’s mental health, and Amanda will discuss her own personal experiences of living with a man and his mental health.
The Old Bank Wellbeing Trust who work closely with ManKind and provide counselling and support services will also be attending.
There is a collection of online tools and resources to support men’s health on the East Sussex libraries website including book recommendations to help support wellbeing, information about events, and links to podcasts and forums offering help and advice.
‘Let’s Talk… Men’s Mental Health’ will be held at Eastbourne Library at 7pm on Wednesday, 9 November. To book a free place please visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/mensmentalhealthevent
Details of how to join the ManKind online and face to face meetings can be found on the ManKind website.
Urgent mental health help and advice is available on the NHS website.