MEN are being encouraged to talk to their friends about their feelings, as part of a campaign which aims to tackle the high levels of male suicide across Leicester and Leicestershire.
A total of 455 deaths by suicide in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland were recorded between January 2015 and June 2021. More than 75 per cent of those deaths – 353 – were men.
The ‘Get the Ball Rolling’ campaign has been devised by the city, county and Rutland councils’ Start a Conversation partnership, and follows a report on male suicide published this year by Healthwatch Leicester and Leicestershire.
Video: The Leicester Times
It uses sporting references on beer mats, posters and on social media to show men how they can start a conversation with others, and where they can get help if they are struggling with their mental health.
Local brewery Everards is backing the campaign by placing the beer mats and posters in its pubs across the city, county and Rutland.
Cllr Vi Dempster, asst city mayor for public health in Leicester said that the campaign would help to take away some of the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health.
“One of the things that is stopping people is stigma, and so the more you talk about things, the more ordinary you make it and the more acceptable you make it,” she said.
“We need to get the ball rolling now. We need to make it easier for people to connect with each other and address this issue,” she added.
“I think pubs are where a lot of people feel comfortable, when you’re actually having a conversation and you’re in a relaxed atmosphere, you’ve let your guard down a little bit already, it’s the ideal place to start that conversation.”
The initiative has also got the support of the United Leicester mental health hub, an online platform where members of the local sporting community share their own stories with the aim of helping others to talk and get the support they need.
United Leicester is a partnership of the city’s four professional sports clubs and funded by their respective official charities.
“This is a campaign that’s close to our hearts, and we think it’s something that we really want to support and something which will really help men, particularly in Leicestershire,” said Matt Bray from Leicester City Football Club, which is on board with the initiative.
“Mental health and suicide is not something men will talk about. Men are not great at dealing with their feelings, so we want this campaign to get men talking, whether it’s a colleague, or a friend at work, let’s talk and let’s see if we can help some more men.
“In recent years you are getting more sports personalities openly speaking about their feelings and what we’ve got on our United Leicester portal, we’ve got ex-players, we’ve got fans, we’ve got club employees talking about their experience of mental health, and videos on there about suicide as well, so hopefully if someone’s feeling low, they can have a look at some of these videos and we think they’ll make a real difference,” he added.
Erika Hardy, head of marketing at Everards said: “This is a really positive initiative that we are proud to support. We recognise that the local pub is a great place for conversations and therefore a perfect place to share these important messages.”
More about the campaign, advice on how to start a conversation about mental health and information on services on offer in Leicester is available at www.unitedleicester.co.uk or www.startaconversation.co.uk