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"Talking is a point of strength" - Ipswich Town star Jordan Spence backs suicide prevention event

PUBLISHED: 06:48 11 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:47 11 September 2018

Ipswich Town right-back Jordan Spence spoke about the importance of mental health awareness at the Suffolk Mind event Picture: NEIL DIDSBURY

Ipswich Town right-back Jordan Spence spoke about the importance of mental health awareness at the Suffolk Mind event Picture: NEIL DIDSBURY

NEIL DIDSBURY

Ipswich Town star Jordan Spence spoke out about the dangers of toxic male stereotypes as people across Suffolk came together to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

Mr Spence met with a number of charity representatives to discuss the issues surrounding mental illness in Suffolk Picture: NEIL DIDSBURYMr Spence met with a number of charity representatives to discuss the issues surrounding mental illness in Suffolk Picture: NEIL DIDSBURY

The Tractor Boys right-back said he considered talking to be “a point of strength” at a special event organised by Suffolk Mind.

At the drop-in event, which was held in Quay Place, Ipswich, Mr Spence spoke about the importance of challenging the stigma surrounding mental illness – both in sport and beyond.

“You wear your physical health quite obviously but your mental health is something that is a bit harder to decipher peer to peer,” he said.

“So we want to show that we’re talking about it, we’re drawing attention to it – and if that makes a small difference then we’ll be happy.

He added that young men were particularly vulnerable, partly due to masculine stereotypes enforced in society – which may prevent people from talking.

“As a football club we certainly want to do what we can to highlight the opportunity there is for young men to talk,” he said.

“It’s something that I feel very passionately about and something that I know a lot of my fellow players and teammates feeel passionately about.

“Without over-generalising, I think we understand that men struggle to talk about their feelings as easily as maybe women do. I think that there are some social stigmas surrounding being a man and what it means to be a man, and what sort of qualities that you need to have to be a man.

The football star said that men should not be afraid to speak about their feelings Picture: NEIL DIDSBURYThe football star said that men should not be afraid to speak about their feelings Picture: NEIL DIDSBURY

“And whereas some of those may be good, some of them are very detrimental – that you need to be stoic, and that men don’t cry, and all those different things. We see them crying about football matches so we know they do.

“So let’s try and talk about what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling, and maybe it’s a case of you need an independent voice to speak to.”

Staff from Suffolk Mind ran workshops and talks, providing information on topics such as the language of suicide.

Other organisations like The Samaritans, Julian Support, Age UK Suffolk and Time to Change were also in attendance.

Ezra Hewing, Head of Mental Health Education at Suffolk Mind said: “If you know somebody well, then looking out for indications of unmet emotional needs can identify risk of thoughts about suicide arising in response.”

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