As people who know me will know, I suffer with what people describe as mental health issues. Not to apply labels to everything, I generally suffer with an anxiety disorder and low mood. Therefore, it’s always been a personal aim of mine to set up some sort of project to help others in a similar situation to myself.
The first thing I’d like to make clear is that I’m not looking at all to dismiss the work done by any other groups or organisations who are already operating either online or in Sheffield. I think everyone will recognise that there is a need for more to be done where mental health is concerned and I feel if my ideas can be developed into a project, it could compliment the other services out there well.
So, my idea in principle is to deliver a men’s mental health project that operates both online and offline. As someone who lives in Sheffield, the offline side of things will ideally be in and around the Sheffield area, as I’m especially motivated to give something back to my home city and the people within it.
Working on the basis of my own experiences and those of others who I’ve spoken to over the years, it’s clear that men don’t feel comfortable talking about things such as anxiety and depression, especially in Sheffield. There has long been a stigma where men and mental health is concerned, with many often feeling they should just man up, but it’s clear this is and will always be detrimental in the long run.
I want to be clear that while my proposed project is to help people who do suffer with mental health issues like anxeity and depression, I’m of the opinion that if you describe a project as being aimed at mental health, it can in fact put people off. This is because people can at times feel they’re using an online portal or getting involved offline because they’re mad or crazy.
With men struggling to reach out for the first time, I’m looking to develop an online portal or service first. I don’t feel it’s necessary to force someone to run before they can walk and having an online side of things allows people to communicate from wherever is comfortable and convenient for them, without the pressure of having to meet new people in a potentially overwhelming situation.
I am aiming to bring something to the offline world too, which could and most likely will involve regular meets. Ideally, I’d like people to see this as more of a club in a way, but not a metnal health club. As someone who suffers with mental health problems, I’ve found that you can have hundreds of friends, but if they haven’t suffered, they’ll never truly understand. So, you can feel you’re alone, even if you aren’t on the face of it.
I’ve also found over the years that the people best placed to support those suffering are people who have experienced similar or the same themselves. Being understood or knowing that you’re around or able to reach out to people who have or who are going through the same can be beneficial in my opinion.
So, the pencilled in plans are an online and offline peer-to-peer support network, where people going throught the same sort of things can come together and just feel at ease with anything and everything. People will be able to discuss things that may be troubling them and I’d also look to provide valuable resources too.