Throughout the COVID 19 Pandemic there has been an undercurrent of concern about a component of health that has been a taboo subject for large sections of society for many years.
Mental Health, or rather poor mental health.
With influential figures and role models like HRH Prince William and Tyson Fury the WBO Heavyweight Champion of the world speaking openly, poor mental health amongst men has been gaining traction in the mainstream media. The conversations have started and the actions are being planned, but there’s still a long way to go.
Did you know that men are three times are likely to die by suicide, than women? Men aged 40-49 have the highest rate of suicide and men are less likely to access medical care than women. Just 36% of referrals for NHS therapies are for men.
Health and Safety Professionals often use and examine statistics related to workplace hazards to monitor the effectiveness of control measures. Of particular note is the statistic that surrounds ‘the biggest workplace killer – Asbestos’, according to UKATA In 2018 around 5000 people died from Asbestos related diseases.
Compare this to the suicide statistics from the UK over the same period.
Let that number sink in for a minute.
That’s 18 people a day, or 125 every single week.
In the Construction Industry alone, statistics suggest that two people every working day end their lives by suicide.
There are plenty of charities and support services available, but some of the most accessible are peer support groups.
We caught up with Andy Bishop, Founder of ManGang, a peer support group for men who might be struggling with their mental health.
Inspired by his own struggles with mental illness, and encouraged by the response to telling his own story about his journey with poor mental health and suicide, the ManGang was launched in 2019. Since then, ManGang has helped around 400 men from all backgrounds and ages.
It also caters for men with addiction problems, who are lonely, or having a bad time at work as anything out of routine can be a source of stress. With a focus on listening, rather than fixing, peer support groups like ManGang, can reach those men who wouldn’t seek help otherwise.
Asked what advice he has for anyone battling with poor mental health, Andy said: “keep on keeping on, no matter how hard the struggle is, as long as you keep moving forwards it will get better, nothing is forever”.
Stay safe and if you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out.
It’s Not Weak To Speak.
The ManGang was founded by Andy Bishop, who struggled with poor mental health all of his adult life. He, like many other men, found it difficult to share his experience and condition with others for fear of judgement. He thought that he would be judged as being weak. After losing a close friend to suicide on 2017, he embarked on a campaign to break the stigma that stopped his friend from talking about his issues.