A former Norwich City footballer who has battled depression was among the many inspirational speakers at a hugely successful Men’s Wellbeing Awareness Day event hosted by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).
Nearly 200 service users, carers, relatives, supporters and partners packed the conference at the King’s Centre in Norwich on Thursday, 23 November, to find out more about safeguarding men’s emotional health during a special event to mark Men’s Health Awareness Month.
Open to service users, carers, the public and third sector organisations, it aimed to raise awareness, challenge stereotypes and encourage men to ask for help when they need it.
The day featured experts such as Dr Roger Kingerlee, NSFT Clinical Psychologist, and Dr John Barry, one of the founders of the Male Psychology Network, speaking about male psychologies and male health-seeking behaviour.
It also brought together a range of inspirational speakers with personal experience of mental ill health, including Luke Woodley, founder of The Walnut Tree Project who suffered with PTSD, and former Norwich City footballer Cedric Anselin and Richard Gorrod, NSFT Service User Governor, who have both battled depression.
Deborah Harrison, a senior lecturer in Occupational Therapy at the University of East Anglia, spoke about her experiences of working with male military veterans during a talk entitled ‘Occupational Therapy with Combat-injured Veterans’.
In addition, NSFT staff also talked about the Trust’s ongoing Men’s Wellbeing Project, which encourages men to talk more openly about their emotions, improve their access to mental health services and promote education and social inclusion.
It was introduced in response to national statistics which show men are three times more likely to take their lives than women, particular those in the 45 to 59 age group.
Gabriel Abotsie, Men’s Wellbeing Nursing Lead with NSFT, said: “We arranged this special event to raise awareness of the importance of protecting men’s wellbeing, challenge stereotypes and encourage men to ask for help. That is because men can find it especially difficult to ask for psychological help.
“We encourage anyone who has had mental health difficulties, along with their carers, families and friends, to help us raise awareness of the importance of talking openly when you are facing difficulties.
“A range of inspirational speakers spoke about their own experiences, while a variety of partner organisations were also on hand to talk about their work and the support they offer.”
Dr Kingerlee added: “Times are changing for men's mental health. Locally and nationally, there is more awareness and understanding of the issue than ever, and there are new services to match.
“This event showcased what is happening in our local communities, and how this can help the men in our lives.”
For more information about NSFT’s Men’s Wellbeing Project, visit www.nsft.uk/menswellbeingproject
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