Time4Calm initiative launched to support men's mental health in Washington and Sunderland
A new initiative has been launched aimed at supporting men struggling to deal with anxiety and mental health.
The Time4Calm project, which is run by Washington Support Group for Men, is a six week programme promoting mental wellbeing by allowing people to reflect on their emotions and develop natural techniques such as meditation to deal with stress an anxiety.
One of those taking part was John Blake, 57, from Concord, who has struggled with his mental wellbeing since his brother sadly passed away.
John said: “I haven’t been well since my brother died but I found the sessions run by the group really supportive. It’s great to be able to chat with other members of the group.”
Fellow participant Daniel Adekunle, 25, added: “My therapist asked me to come to the session as I suffer from social anxiety and get really nervous in a crowd.
"Men are often afraid to open up about how they feel but I found the session really useful.”
The issue of mental health has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic with many people having to isolate and having limited social contact with friends and family.
Ray Nichol, 75, from Biddick, said: “This is the first time I’ve been out of the house and had any social contact for nearly 18 months.
“I had heart surgery and have a slight disability which means I’m classed as vulnerable.
"I found the session really useful and I’m feeling a lot more positive. It was great to come along and to be able to mix with people again.”
The session was run by mindful coach Laura Ann Hind, 56, with participants learning breathing techniques as well as taking part in mental well being bingo and completing a reflective journal.
She said: "I think men in particular put themselves under pressure to have to do more and be more than what they are and this can lead to a lot of stress and anxiety.
"The sessions are about addressing the route cause of issues rather than simply taking a pill.
"For men in particular, a lot of this stems back to the closure of the pits and the shipyards which left people feeling rudderless and without a purpose.
"Feelings of anxiety have also increased due to the pandemic.”
Figures from NHS England show suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 50.
Group secretary Billy Crebbin, 69, believes there’s still a cultural reluctance for men to open up about their emotions.
He added: “Men have always been less willing to engage with how they feel. Getting people through the door is the most difficult thing. Once they become part of the group they open up about their feelings and really progress.”
Group chairman and former community health team worker Malcolm Watson added: “One of the most important features of the group is allowing men to share their experiences and realise it’s not just them who feel that way.”
The group meets every Monday at 1pm at the Millennium Centre in Concord. Anyone who feels in need of support should contact the group on 07784283609 or email [email protected]