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Men talking in a peer group

Life-saving mental health support for men in County Durham and Darlington.

A life-saving CIC that supports men with their mental health has extended its service.

Man Health has been operating a hugely popular peer support service in the region since 2015 and wanted to expand to meet need.

A £5,000 grant from County Durham Community Foundation’s Covid-19 Fund helped the team launch a Chat and Connect service. The service runs 7 nights a week, from 6pm to 10pm and men can refer themselves or be referred by other services.

Health support

Paul Bannister from Man Health said: “It’s a life-saving service. If these guys weren’t in regular contact I dread to think what would happen to them.

“We intervene, offer resources and contact the men who call us again and again. It is about building those relationships and creating a high-level intervention. We might speak to one man six or seven times in a week, for an hour each time, so its intensive support.”

The aim of the CIC is to prevent suicide and encourage men to join peer support groups where they can talk without fear of judgement.

Empathy

Paul added: “The groups are life-changing because they help men become part of a community again. It’s really, really non-judgemental, supportive and empathetic.

“Social isolation is the issue with most men. Many men shed a lot of friends by the time they’re 35.

“We say that people need to reach out and talk but people also need to start listening. There are signs that are easy to spot when you know what they are; like isolation, anger and not attending social events.”

Before the pandemic, the CIC was on the verge of opening its thirteenth group in the region. In 2019 it provided 6,000 hours of free support to 3,000 men.

To find out more, go to the Man Health website.

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It’s a life-saving service. If these guys weren’t in regular contact I dread to think what would happen to them.

Paul Bannister