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Groups in Portsmouth ‘leading the way’ to discuss men’s mental health during lockdown

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Mental health awareness groups in Portsmouth met over a video call to discuss the importance of men’s mental health support Copyright: JPIMedia

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week the Solent NHS Trust hosted a video call with various organisations in the city in the first of many workshops to share experiences, advice and ideas.

Among them were representatives from the NHS Solent service Talking Change, Solent Mind, All Call Signs and Dadzclub, as well as MP Stephen Morgan.

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Veterans mental health charity All Call Signs was one of the groups involved in the forum.
(l to r), Dan Arnold, Viv Johnston, Stephen James, and Kerry McCarran-Clarke.

Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150619-4) Copyright: JPIMedia

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Dave Burniston, a psychotherapist for Talking Change, explained why it was important men’s mental health is discussed. ‘We know that men and women suffer mental health conditions at the same rate but the rate of men seeking support is vastly different,’ he said.

‘Women are far more likely to come for support. Yet the rates of suicide are much higher for men.

‘We want to put our experiences together and discuss how we can keep supporting men in the area. This workshop was about sharing ideas and projects where we can work together to ultimately save lives.’

Dan Arnold, one of the founders of veteran mental health charity All Call Signs, agreed. ‘Having all the groups come together like this has been great,’ he said.

‘Portsmouth is once again showing itself to be leading the way when it comes to collectively thinking about mental health.

‘At the moment we’re in a huge pressure cooker environment with lockdown.

‘We saw a huge spike in referrals in the first week of lockdown – up 75 per cent – and that is continuing now. We need to change the conversation around mental health so it’s no longer taboo.’

It is planned future video call meetings will be held by Solent NHS Trust on the subjects of anxiety, sleeplessness, depression and OCD, which members of the public will be able to tune into.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan added: ‘I share the concerns of the men’s health forum on the impact of Covid-19 on the physical and mental wellbeing of men and the risks of a spike in addictive behaviours and suicide.

‘Not just in Mental Health Awareness Week I want to shine a spotlight on the important work of Solent NHS Trust, Solent Mind and local groups across our communities who are working tirelessly to ensure the continued availability of mental health services during this public health emergency.’

To find out how to join the next video meeting check the Talking Change website talkingchange.nhs.uk.

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