'We must break the stigma' - Men speak out about mental health

Dan Somers representative of MANUP?

Dan Somers is a representative of MANUP? a men's mental health organisation based in Suffolk - Credit: Dan Somers

Men in Suffolk have shared their experiences and struggles with mental health in hope of breaking the stigma attached. 

In Suffolk in 2017, 61 people took their own life through suicide, and male suicide rates in Suffolk are nearly three times higher than females, a trend broadly reflected nationally.

Dan Somers, a representative from Suffolk-based men's mental health organisation MANUP?, said the term mental health is not spoken about enough. 

He said the stigma attached to men's mental health is "massive", and believes we are "years away" from breaking that stigma. 

"Men don't want to be a burden, especially during Covid when people feel more stressed and patience is running thing," he explained.

"Men don't want to burden others around them, and have become more silent than before."

Speaking about his own experiences, he said often people who suffer from mental health issues are the "best actors going".

Archant men come together with Dan Somers to support men with mental health problems. Picture: CHARL

Archant men came together with Dan Somers in 2019 to support men with mental health problems. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

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He said: "When I was in my darkest area, I was the best performer at the call centre. I was the first one at the pub, but at this point I was dying inside."

Mr Somers said there are two things which need to be addressed to help men with poor mental health.

"Firstly, we need to get rid of the stigma" explained Mr Somers.

"And secondly, we need to be looking at different tell-tale signs. People tend to look out for the wrong symptoms."

To raise awareness of mental health during Men's Health Week (June 10-16), Suffolk Mind has released a video of four men talking about their experiences.

BBC Radio Suffolk presenter, Wayne Bavin, Suffolk Mind CEO, Jon Neal, Suffolk Mind volunteer Lambert Dangmaa and Suffolk Food Hall Butchery Supervisor and Suffolk Mind fundraiser, Craig Bullard have all spoken openly about their own experiences in the three minute video to highlight the importance of men’s mental health.

Mr Bullard said: “I feel men’s health is a subject that isn’t spoken of enough in the country let alone the county. I’ve had some help from Suffolk Mind before but not to the extent that others have. I think it’s important to have the opportunity to speak to someone as it can have a bigger influence than people believe."

You can find out more about MANUP? and the work they are doing in Suffolk here

If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple & Android.

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