'Life-changing' project expands to help men open up about mental health issues in South Tyneside

A new support group is set to be launched in South Tyneside to help men open up about their mental health issues before it’s too late.

By Sarah Sinclair
Friday, 13th September 2019, 12:45 pm
ManHealth is expanding its support services to help men in South Tyneside open up about mental health

ManHealth, a non-profit organisation which launched in County Durham, is expanding to provide services to men across South Tyneside.

They will launch their first weekly peer support group in Westoe on Monday, September 23, followed by a second in Hebburn on November 6.

It comes after the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the North East has the highest rate of male suicide in England.

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Paul Bannister (left) director of ManHealth with one of the ManClub group members

Director Paul Bannister, 54, set up the service two years ago after his own experience of depression.

“When I was struggling with my mental health I felt there was no support I could reach out to and nowhere I could turn,” he said.

“I had the impression that no one really understood.”

Now ManHealth run 10 ‘ManClub’ support groups across County Durham and Northumberland helping over 100 men every week.

ManHealth is expanding its support services to help men in South Tyneside open up about mental health

The groups, which are all run by members who have personal experience of mental ill health, provide a place where men can go to talk to others and receive information and support before they reach crisis point.

“We’re dealing with a mental health crisis in this country especially around male suicide,” said Paul.

“It is the biggest killer of men under 49 and the North East has some of the highest rates of suicide in the country.”

ManHealth is working with South Tyneside Council and men’s support organisation Including Men on the pilot project, which will run initially for four months.

“There’s still a huge stigma attached to men’s mental health whether we like it or not. Asking for health is seen as a sign of weakness,” Paul added.

“I would encourage anyone who is struggling to attend.

“Members say that is has saved their life. It really is a life changing project.”

The first Westoe ManClub will be held on Monday, September 23 from 6pm-8pm at the Riverside Children’s Centre.

Hebburn ManClub will launch on Wednesday, November 6 from 6pm-8pm at the Early Excellence Centre.