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New mental health campaign to target 200 men in the South Wales Valleys

Written by on 7th October 2020

A campaign is being launched on World Mental Health Day, Saturday 10th October, to support more men with their mental health, across the Cwm Taf Morgannwg area.

Led by Let’s Talk Mens Mental Health, the six-month drive is aiming to increase the peer-led organisation’s membership by 200, to reach a milestone of 500 men that it engages with through its online community.

Thanks to Welsh Government funding, the campaign will reach out to men who might be experiencing difficulties, or people that know a man who is going through mental distress or ill-health. Local groups will also be targeted in an effort to reach those who might find it difficult to have a conversation about mental health.

Levels of depression have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, and suicide remains the biggest killer of men under 50. The campaign launch also comes at a time when local lockdowns are in place.

Any new members to Let’s Talk Mens Mental Health will be reassured that the group lives by its three values of ‘no pressure, no judgement, no stigma’. A number of those joining will also have the opportunity to be referred to a free counselling service that is run by Cwm Taf Morgannwg Mind.

Over the course of the six months, a series of films, podcasts, vodcasts, social media promotion, and communicating key messages through other organisations, will seek to encourage men to come forward. A new website will be created during the campaign, to act as a hub for Let’s Talk Mens Mental Health, its members, and local stakeholders to share information and signpost to other services.

Let’s Talk Mens Mental Health was created by Shaun Parfitt (32, Aberdare) and Michael Miles (34, Aberdare), both of whom have lived experience of mental ill-health. They said: “We’re delighted to be receiving support that will enable us to reach out and offer a safe space for men in the Valleys to talk about their mental health. Over the last two years, we’ve built a strong online community where men talk openly about what they’re going through and are often supported by other members leading to a positive outcome.

Before lockdown came in, we were holding regular social meets for men, and developing physical peer support groups, so this online campaign will ensure that we don’t lose momentum or interest, but in fact increase our membership as the pandemic continues”.

Paul Carpenter, 49 from Tonyrefail, is a big supporter of the campaign: “I’ve been affected by mental ill-health since my late teens when I had no self-confidence. There have been lots of ups and downs through the years, including having suicidal thoughts. I once got talking to two guys in the local gym and opened up to them about what I was going through. They both did the same back, which told me how important it is that men can talk about their mental health wherever they might be. Let’s Talk Mens Mental Health are providing a safe space for men to be themselves on an issue that can be so hard to discuss”.

Kieron Gough, 36 from Aberdare, has experienced the benefits of being involved with Let’s Talk Mens Mental Health: “It’s very much the feeling that ‘I’m a man, I don’t cry’. My sexuality was the biggest thing. I was 28 when I came out, you see 18-year-olds now as openly gay, but back in 1999 if someone was gay some people treated it like a disease. I’ve used Samaritans but this is different because Let’s Talk Mens Mental Health is local, it’s people you might know and that’s OK; it puts you with other like-minded people that make you feel normal. What a lovely bunch of guys they are. It’s really breaking down barriers.”