New charity programme encourages men to talk about mental health
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A Suffolk charity is launching its first men's mental health programme after the results of their pilot scheme showed the need for men to talk about their mental wellbeing.
The Blossom Charity, based in Eye, has offered coaching services to women for several years, but has now started to run a programme for men as well.
Bridget McIntyre, the charity's founder and a former High Sheriff of Suffolk, said: "We started with women, because I am a woman and I knew the issues that women faced. But I never intended that forever, it would just be women.
"We were fortunate enough that somebody approached us in March 2020 saying they wanted to sponsor a pilot men's programme and that enabled us to be able to run it.
"We don't counsel, we coach. We're very clear about that."
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The programme ran for around nine months and saw eight men participate in one-to-one coaching, as well group sessions.
Mrs McIntyre said the programme focussed on issues around "who I am, and why I am like I am", as well as managing mental health problems, and building communication skills and personal resilience. She added it was tailored to suit the needs of the participants.
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The group included men between the ages of 30 and 60, and included people who had had various life experiences, ranging from recovering from a serious illness to being made redundant in the middle of the pandemic.
The men rated themselves on factors such as self-confidence, problem solving and their ability to achieve future goals at the beginning and end of the programme.
Mrs McIntyre said: "The average score at the start of the programme was about 3.6 out of 10. At the end the average was about 7.8.
"I have never seen that degree of change — and it was through a pandemic. It emphasises the need for a programme like this."
Russell, one of the men who participated in the pilot programme, said: "It’s the first time I’ve been in a group of guys in this environment and we’re talking about things that I haven’t talked about or heard before. I know that I could talk to the group about anything, which is great.
"The programme has definitely been worthwhile and my family life and working life have both improved as a result."
More details on The Blossom Charity's men's programme can be found here.