ManHealth is a voluntary sector organisation based in County Durham, providing peer support groups and webchat services for men suffering from depression and other mental health issues across County Durham and Northumberland. ManHealth work to address and understand the intense emotional pain which depression can cause, and which can distort thinking to the point where it becomes much harder to see possible solutions to problems, or to connect with those who can offer support. All too often, men can then see suicide as the only viable way to make that pain stop.
ManHealth is founded on the principal that peer support, offered by someone with lived experience of mental ill health, can help men, and by extension can also indirectly benefit their families and employers. Indeed, ManHealth’s founder Paul Bannister set up the organisation in 2015 after himself struggling with depression and as a means of challenging stigmas over speaking out and seeking support.
ManHealth’s founder, Paul Bannister, says,
“Staying quiet about your struggles does not work. Our culture is definitely getting better at talking openly about mental health, but we still have a way to go. Many men still feel ashamed of the idea of confessing their own struggles, and it’s this shame, of the fear of judgement by others, which we need to challenge. For men suffering from mental ill health, their need is for a listening ear, from someone who can offer advice and provide them with the knowledge to manage their illness and rebuild their confidence.“
Much of ManHealth’s work is around the importance of peer support, as a key tool to enable men to use their own lived experience for support. Paul Bannister continues,
“We endeavour to empower men to do a great deal of self healing; our peer support model – based around the five “C”s of Connect, Change, Community, Commit and Challenge – encourages men to move forward, set new goals, to do things, and to develop relationships that give their lives meaning.“
ManHealth’s offering includes a range of advice and support around lifestyle changes – such as exercise, sleep, stress reduction and improved diet – as simple but powerful tools in helping to treat depression. They also work to engage with men directly through regular fundraising and social activities, including skydives, charity football matches and live comedy nights.
Additionally, ManHealth offer courses intended for businesses and their male staff, looking at the main preventable killers of men in the UK, and at risk factors, barriers to seeking support and self-care strategies for men and their mental health. They also offer the ManBassador Programme, developed together with Our Mind’s Work, a workplace wellbeing initiative training key employees to become wellbeing ambassadors and provide support for both mental and physical health in men.
Find out more about ManHealth via their website.