A partnership between a social group and a York counselling service has been helping men struggling with their mental health.
York Menfulness, an inclusive community for men in the city, has teamed up with Serendipity Counselling York, based in St Saviourgate.
The guys at Menfulness offer activities such as social circuits, football, running and they even have an allotment.
They bring men together to socialise, exercise, enjoy themselves, talk and let off steam in a non-judging, friendly and supportive environment.
Menfulness co-founder Jack Woodhams says that, on average, for every ten men who attended an activity, there was one who needed professional mental health support that they could not provide.
That’s where Serendipity Counselling came in.
Over the last year Menfulness and Serendipity have worked together to provide funded counselling places to support men’s mental health.
Serendipity has provided 300 hours of counselling for Menfulness, to more than 40 men. They can access six free counselling sessions, funded from a variety of sources including the NHS Humber, Coast & Vale Care Partnership and lottery funding.
“All Menfulness referrals report 100% meaningful positive change,” said Serendipity director Sinead Tingley.
“And referrals from partners in the community report that 96% of men experience meaningful positive change or maintaining stable wellbeing.”
She said the main factors leading men to access therapy included advice from their partners, a GP or a trusted source.
“Menfulness are that trusted and respected source. The way they use their own life experiences and openness about their counselling has broken down barriers to accessing help within their client group.”
One man who accessed the support, Matt, said: “The services I can access through Menfulness has made such a positive difference to me. It was there when I needed it, easy to access, and I feel positive and empowered as a result.
“Menfulness removes any stigma around mens mental health and has made me realise it’s OK to speak up.”
Sinead said the impact of men not seeking help can be seen in the fact that suicide rates in men in the UK have been rising and young men are considered to be a particular risk.
“This type of carefully thought-out approach to providing support aims to encouraging help seeking whilst taking into consideration barriers such as masculine traits of difficulty in seeking help.”
Jack added: “Menfulness are volunteer-led. So far we have funded everything via donations, sponsorships and grants.
“But we need more help. If you’d like to donate towards our work, get involved or simply find out more, email [email protected].”
They thanked the people who have supported them this year: Jo Kent, Humber Coast and Vale NHS Foundation Trust, Andy Chapman, suicide prevention lead, City of York, York St John, Teeside, Leeds Beckett and Derby Universities for their counselling, psychotherapy and psychology placement students.