Caring duo launches men’s mental health support group
Two Biddulph lads have encouraged men in the town to talk about their feelings and not deal with emotional issues in private, after seeing their peers struggling with their mental health.
Professional boxer James Biddulph and tattoo artist Lee Bradbury said they were concerned on the lack of mental health provision in the town and worried that the pandemic could exasperate existing issues.
This week, their group Biddulph Men’s Minds Matter went live on social media. It provides a platform for men in the town to open up and develop coping strategies for whatever issues they are facing. The pair hope to start face-to-face meetings with members when it is safe to do so, offering a space to chat over a cup of tea.
Mr Biddulph and Mr Bradbury spoke to the Chronicle about how men traditionally keep certain struggles private, despite suicide being the single biggest killer of men aged under 45 in the UK.
Mr Biddulph said: “A lot of people in the town aren’t sure about these bigger organisations, but if you’ve got two local lads like us doing something then it’s a lot easier for people to open up. Between the pair of us, there’s probably a lot of people in Biddulph who know us already.
“We’re trying to help people develop coping strategies for whatever they’re going through, and we’re basically just doing that by having a chat, and encouraging them to talk.
“The group is something that me and Lee have been talking about for weeks, but we got it all set up over the last two weeks.
“The goal is to have weekly meetings in the future so that we can talk in person.”
Mr Bradbury said: “Particularly with older blokes who consider themselves quite tough, they have this thing where they don’t want to talk about their emotions – but we want to change that.
“A lot of it stems back to being a kid - if you had something going on, you wouldn’t really want to tell your dad about it, but that’s probably how your dad was brought up, too. Bottling stuff up and not talking is the worst thing you can do.
“If you’re the man of the family, you might feel like you have to be the big, strong alpha and that you’re not allowed to have a down day. But I think it’s time that blokes realise that it’s okay to talk about their feelings.
“Throughout the pandemic a lot of men have lost their jobs or aren’t earning as much money. If you’re feeling that you aren’t providing, that can have an adverse effect on your mental health, too. Mental health is an epidemic in itself.
“We’re not qualified psychologists and we’re not pretending to be, but hopefully we will get a professional on board if we start meeting in person. Right now, we’re focusing on giving people the chance to talk.” To join the group, search for Biddulph Men’s Minds Matter on Facebook.